'The Lost Daughter' starring Olivia Colman — release date, cast, plot and more

Olivia Colman in 'The Lost Daughter'.
(Image credit: Netflix)

The Lost Daughter is a tense psychological drama starring Olivia Colman, Dakota Johnson and Jessie Buckley which is streaming on Netflix.

Based on Elena Ferrante's novel of the same name, The Lost Daughter is a tense, emotional drama centering on Leda Caruso — a university professor who grapples with the consequences of her own family life after developing an obsession with another family on holiday.

The movie is adapted and directed by Oscar and Golden Globe-nominated actor Maggie Gyllenhaal in her directorial debut. It premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September 2021 — where it was praised by critics, nominated for Best Film and netted Maggie the award for Best Screenplay.

Here's everything we know about The Lost Daughter so far...

'The Lost Daughter' release date

The Lost Daughter is available to stream on Netflix on Dec. 31 2021. It also had a limited theatrical release appearing in movie theatres from Dec. 17.

'The Lost Daughter' cast

The Lost Daughter has an impressive cast list. 

Multi-award-winning actor Olivia Colman (The Crown, The Father, Landscapers) stars in the film as Leda Caruso, the troubled academic at the heart of the film. Jessie Buckley (I'm Thinking of Ending Things, War and Peace, Wild Rose) plays a younger version of Leda.

Also on board are Dakota Johnson (Fifty Shades, The Peanut Butter Falcon) as Nina, a young mother married to a mobster, Peter Sarsgaard (Dopesick, The Batman) as Professor Hardy, Leda's lover, Ed Harris (Westworld) as Lyle, and Normal People's Paul Mescal as Will.

The Lost Daughter - (L-R) Nina (Dakota Johnson) and Leda (Olivia Colman)

(L-R) Nina (Dakota Johnson) and Leda (Olivia Colman). (Image credit: YANNIS DRAKOULIDIS/NETFLIX)

'The Lost Daughter' plot

The Lost Daughter follows a woman called Leda. On a seaside vacation, Leda becomes obsessed with a young mother and daughter whilst watching them on the beach. 

As she looks on, Leda gets wrapped up in their compelling relationship and their raucous, menacing extended family. Watching them causes Leda to become overwhelmed with memories of the terror, confusion and intensity of early motherhood.

An impulsive act shocks her back into memories of the past, forcing her to face the unconventional choices that she made when she was a young mother. As obsession takes hold, Leda grapples with the secrets locked away in her mind, struggling with the consequences of old actions and how they're seemingly mirrored by events in the present day.

The Lost Daughter wrestles with questions of motherhood, personal sacrifice, expected conventions around social roles and what happens when women transgress those expected conventions. It's a tense, slightly eerie film but always compelling.

Read our full review of the Lost Daughter

Is there a trailer?

In the trailer, we're treated to the stunning setting of Leda's beach vacation, but it wastes no time in shattering that serenity and showing us the downward spiral that Leda gets herself into. Quickly, we start seeing glimpses at Leda's past, and the tension only ratchets up as she begins to interact with Nina more and more.

The trailer also makes a point of highlighting some of the praise that has been lavished on The Lost Daughter, making it sound like an intimate, gripping journey that's not to be missed.

Martin Shore
Staff Writer at WhatToWatch.com

Martin was a Staff Writer with WhatToWatch.com, where he produced a variety of articles focused on the latest and greatest films and TV shows. Now he works for our sister site Tom's Guide in the same role.

Some of his favorite shows are What We Do In The Shadows, Bridgerton, Gangs of London, The Witcher, Doctor Who, and Ghosts. When he’s not watching TV or at the movies, Martin’s probably still in front of a screen playing the latest video games, reading, or watching the NFL.