(AFP) – “I have always been a director but I dared not admit it”: American actress Maggie Gyllenhaal walks behind the camera with the intention of destroying the image of the perfect mother in ” The Lost Daughter “, starring Olivia Colman, available Friday on Netflix.
The Ball Child (daughter of director Stephen Gyllenhaal, and sister of actor Jake Gyllenhaal), adapted for her directorial debut from a story by best-selling Italian author Elena Ferrante (“The Wonderful Friend “), famous for never having revealed his real identity.
The two women only corresponded by e-mail, with the director writing to the author to ask if she would allow him to seize her work. Answer: Yes, but only if she realizes it herself.
“I don’t know who she is, it was like a vote of confidence from space,” said Maggie Gyllenhaal when presenting the film at the Venice Film Festival, from which he took away the prize for the screenplay.
On the tone of the psychological thriller, “The Lost Daughter” takes place in a postcard setting, the beaches and alleys of a Greek island, where Leda (Olivia Colman, Elisabeth II in the series “The Crown”), an academic Anglo-Saxon leading an existence that one guesses lonely, came to spend a few days of rest.
The quiet and educated Anglo-Saxon will have to live together in the seaside resort with a large and modest family, locals whom she sees as noisy and without embarrassment. A very special relationship will be created between one of the family members, Nina (Dakota Johnson), a very young mother, and Leda, who sees her memories come back.
Can a mother abandon everything without forever damaging the bond with her children? Is parenting given to everyone? Leda is haunted by her own past, in the form of flashbacks.
– “Completely crazy”? –
Maggie Gyllenhall explains that she was marked several years ago by reading Elena Ferrante’s story, which opened her eyes to the reality of motherhood.
“When I read it, I said to myself ‘Oh my God, this woman is completely nuts!’ But a millisecond later I said to myself that it touches me personally, so I’m nuts, either it’s an experience that a lot of people live but nobody talks about, ”she said.
“It was beautiful to play someone who is sometimes horrible, who does things that you wouldn’t do, even if you think about it sometimes,” added Olivia Colman, who has just been named to the Golden Globes for this. role, just like Maggie Gyllenhaal in the category of best director. “She is not crazy (…) You understand why she does what she does, even if it is difficult”.
“I would be really surprised to find a mother who never thought of pulling herself off all of a sudden! That doesn’t mean you do” but the point of the film is to show “how one can understand and have empathy “for those kinds of characters that don’t fit into the canon of motherhood,” said Maggie Gyllenhaal.
“We wanted to show both the immense joy and love that overwhelms you” in having children, and “this dangerous thing, the truth about the degree of darkness and dread that is also part of parenthood.”
With this first film, which she also wrote and produced, the 44-year-old star says she understood she was made to direct.
“It was while playing in (the series on the world of porn) + The Deuce + that I thought that this (director’s) job could be me,” she explained.
In this first film, she enlisted her husband, Peter Sarsgaard. And would be up for turning another loved one, his brother Jake Gyllenhaal, in a next one.