The Lost Daughter (Maggie Gyllenhaal, 2021)

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Mr Sausage
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Re: The Lost Daughter (Maggie Gyllenhaal, 2021)

#26 Post by Mr Sausage » Wed Jan 05, 2022 2:29 am

therewillbeblus wrote:
Wed Jan 05, 2022 1:52 am
I said "it feels ethically wrong to me" to engage in a purely knee-jerk devaluation, and the "flexing our muscles of ethical evaluation" doesn't always mean that we are going to be perfectly even- we bring our own judgments, notions, and power dynamics (including yes, our invasive position as viewers) into the equation. This isn't a plea to sing Kumbaya around a fire for every character, but that films like this are aiming to be complex, and I was answering DarkImbecile's question with my own personal dismissal of the idea that someone (fictional or literal) should be easily dismissed as irredeemable. There's a difference to me between analyzing how killing off a character is unethical and the process by which we dismiss the worth of a central principal's humanity when there are opportunities to challenge ourselves to see deeper and peripherally, especially in a film like The Lost Daughter that is built around such a character study, and one I think is tragically devoid of richness. I believe such processes of looking down on these characters are detrimental to social engagement outside of fiction, and perhaps I have a personal stake in this, beyond professional codes of ethics, as someone who saw himself in "irredeemable" black-sheep characters growing up (in films clearly designed to feel a mix of empathy and judgment for them) and that shaped my sense of self, but my post was clearly about what I believe subjectively and not an objective analysis you seem to be drawing that reminds me of a puzzle from my college philosophy of logic class.
I seem to've hit a nerve.

I normally wouldn't mind if something feels wrong to you, but you said it feels ethically wrong. But ethics are not a feeling; they're a systematized way of classifying behaviours as right and wrong. You can't claim someone's behaviour is unethical on a feeling. You have to justify it. This is pedantic, yeah, but important because it's not nothing to claim this or that is unethical. That word has a ton of weight. I don't think it applies here.
therewillbeblus wrote:There's a difference to me between analyzing how killing off a character is unethical and the process by which we dismiss the worth of a central principal's humanity when there are opportunities to challenge ourselves to see deeper and peripherally
Whatever the difference is, it's not an ethical one. A character that does not exist cannot be hurt. Devaluing them has no direct consequences on another human being (and you can devalue a character as a way of devaluing a set of attitudes or values or actions that do have direct negative consequences in life, such as you find in satire). That is, unless you want to argue...
therewillbeblus wrote:I believe such processes of looking down on these characters are detrimental to social engagement outside of fiction
...this. And this could be true. But then perhaps the opposite is true: our social engagement determines how we look at fictional characters rather than vice versa. There's a correlation = causation problem here. Also, something that may make it more likely for you to behave unethically later is not therefore itself unethical. A. That's a slippery slope argument of a weird kind. B. That would make, say, a feeling like envy unethical, eg. liking your neighbours nice new car makes it more likely that you would steal said car than if you didn't like it, and therefore unethical because it is detrimental to our social etc. etc. Or, you know, anger. Being angry makes you more likely to do something hurtful than if you're not angry. Is anger therefore unethical? I doubt it.
therewillbeblus wrote:not an objective analysis you seem to be drawing that reminds me of a puzzle from my college philosophy of logic class.
I guess I could always be more illogical in the future.

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Re: The Lost Daughter (Maggie Gyllenhaal, 2021)

#27 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed Jan 05, 2022 2:44 am

You're not hitting a nerve, I sometimes get caught up in explaining myself and it can present as exhaustive and that I am exhausted by it. My point is that I do think it's a problematic process when we see a human being- fictional or otherwise- and engage in devaluing worth from a position of disconnection (and I don't think this film's artists are aiming for this effect- quite the opposite, and failing in the process).

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swo17
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Re: The Lost Daughter (Maggie Gyllenhaal, 2021)

#28 Post by swo17 » Wed Jan 05, 2022 7:26 am

Mr Sausage wrote:
Wed Jan 05, 2022 1:18 am
We’d agree that killing humans is more unethical than looking down on them.
If you're talking about society at large, I don't think this is true anymore

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zedz
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Re: The Lost Daughter (Maggie Gyllenhaal, 2021)

#29 Post by zedz » Wed Jan 05, 2022 2:58 pm

Mr Sausage wrote:
Wed Jan 05, 2022 2:29 am
I normally wouldn't mind if something feels wrong to you, but you said it feels ethically wrong. But ethics are not a feeling; they're a systematized way of classifying behaviours as right and wrong. You can't claim someone's behaviour is unethical on a feeling. You have to justify it. This is pedantic, yeah, but important because it's not nothing to claim this or that is unethical. That word has a ton of weight. I don't think it applies here.
I agree with this, of course, and agree that's it's an important distinction, but I'd add that an author looking down on their characters can often be a mark of bad writing, and the expression of a failure to fully characterize them. But it can also be a characteristic of great writing - e.g. Lolita - so there's not much point in generalizing about it. You need to respect the work by giving it a close reading.

I also don't think this film is looking down on Leda. I think the problem is more that it has a muddled attitude towards a muddled character. It definitely looks down on the nouveau-riche interlopers from Queens, and I have no problem seeing that as a failure of writing (and probably of empathy): with the possible exception of Nina, they're just manipulable plot furniture to block Leda's way or push her where she needs to go.

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zedz
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Re: The Lost Daughter (Maggie Gyllenhaal, 2021)

#30 Post by zedz » Wed Jan 05, 2022 2:59 pm

swo17 wrote:
Wed Jan 05, 2022 7:26 am
Mr Sausage wrote:
Wed Jan 05, 2022 1:18 am
We’d agree that killing humans is more unethical than looking down on them.
If you're talking about society at large, I don't think this is true anymore
Swo's one word New Year's Resolution was: EDGIER.

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Re: The Lost Daughter (Maggie Gyllenhaal, 2021)

#31 Post by swo17 » Wed Jan 05, 2022 3:03 pm

Thank you for noticing

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therewillbeblus
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Re: The Lost Daughter (Maggie Gyllenhaal, 2021)

#32 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed Jan 05, 2022 3:04 pm

zedz wrote:
Wed Jan 05, 2022 2:58 pm
Mr Sausage wrote:
Wed Jan 05, 2022 2:29 am
I normally wouldn't mind if something feels wrong to you, but you said it feels ethically wrong. But ethics are not a feeling; they're a systematized way of classifying behaviours as right and wrong. You can't claim someone's behaviour is unethical on a feeling. You have to justify it. This is pedantic, yeah, but important because it's not nothing to claim this or that is unethical. That word has a ton of weight. I don't think it applies here.
I agree with this, of course, and agree that's it's an important distinction, but I'd add that an author looking down on their characters can often be a mark of bad writing, and the expression of a failure to fully characterize them. But it can also be a characteristic of great writing - e.g. Lolita - so there's not much point in generalizing about it. You need to respect the work by giving it a close reading.

I also don't think this film is looking down on Leda. I think the problem is more that it has a muddled attitude towards a muddled character. It definitely looks down on the nouveau-riche interlopers from Queens, and I have no problem seeing that as a failure of writing (and probably of empathy): with the possible exception of Nina, they're just manipulable plot furniture to block Leda's way or push her where she needs to go.
This is all true, and Lolita is a great example where the aims are different. I do want to clarify that I don't think this is everpresent in fiction, but that specific to films like this that are exploring that empathy/judgment balance. I should have been clearer about that. In any event, I find myself predominantly agreeing with zedz' take on why this film doesn't work in its half-measured aims.

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schellenbergk
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Re: The Films of 2021

#33 Post by schellenbergk » Wed Jan 05, 2022 3:43 pm

Mr Sausage wrote:
Sun Jan 02, 2022 11:34 pm
Walter Kurtz wrote:
Sun Jan 02, 2022 10:56 pm
The Lost Daughter

Unfortunately, the screenplay went missing.
Don't make posts like this, please. Make a real contribution to the discussion.
WK was a bit too pithy, that is true. But he nailed the weakness of the film.

I found the film extremely well acted. I thought all of the performances were spot on. But the story itself didn’t deliver a strong catharsis. It didn’t really seem to go anywhere, once you figure out the flashback structure of it. I was engaged, but ultimately a little disappointed.

I can envision an Oscar nomination for best director though. Mostly because the Academy loves actors who direct.

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zedz
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Re: The Lost Daughter (Maggie Gyllenhaal, 2021)

#34 Post by zedz » Wed Jan 05, 2022 3:49 pm

swo17 wrote:
Wed Jan 05, 2022 3:03 pm
Thank you for noticing, bitch.
Fixed.

You're new to this, aren't you?

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swo17
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Re: The Lost Daughter (Maggie Gyllenhaal, 2021)

#35 Post by swo17 » Wed Jan 05, 2022 3:57 pm

Yes, bi--.... I sure am, bi--.... Sorry, I can't do it

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domino harvey
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Re: The Lost Daughter (Maggie Gyllenhaal, 2021)

#36 Post by domino harvey » Wed Jan 05, 2022 4:06 pm

swo17 wrote:
Wed Jan 05, 2022 3:57 pm
Yes, bi--.... I sure am, bi--.... Sorry, I can't do it
Mandatory Key and Peele

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swo17
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Re: The Lost Daughter (Maggie Gyllenhaal, 2021)

#37 Post by swo17 » Wed Jan 05, 2022 7:21 pm

That was good though as a side note, I didn't watch that show as it aired and vowed never to catch up with it after seeing their diss of Gremlins 2. You're lucky I'd forgotten about that when I clicked your link

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Persona
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Re: The Lost Daughter (Maggie Gyllenhaal, 2021)

#38 Post by Persona » Fri Jan 14, 2022 6:49 pm

Great movie, really wonderful character study by Maggie and Olivia.

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Re: The Lost Daughter (Maggie Gyllenhaal, 2021)

#39 Post by ianthemovie » Fri Jan 14, 2022 8:59 pm

Count me among those who thought this was fantastic. Personally I thought Colman and Buckley's scenes complemented each other beautifully in order to add up to a complete picture of Leda. Colman is extraordinary; I could watch her face forever. Buckley was also fantastic, as expected. Dakota Johnson surprised me because previously I have never been much impressed with her acting. In just a few quick scenes she imbues her character with poignancy and a "lost" quality that allows her to transcend what might have been a classist stereotype. Whatever charges of class snobbery may be leveled against the other characters in the film, Johnson's is clearly someone toward whom Leda feels sympathy as well as an unexpected affinity/identification.
SpoilerShow
Leda's tentative, halting connection with Nina is, I think, necessary for understanding their final scene where Leda tries to give the doll back. For me it wasn't so much a mystery/thriller question of "do they already know she stole the doll or don't they?" The question is rather: "will Nina and Leda bridge their differences in order to connect to each other as women?" Nina opened up to Leda and confessed that she felt depressed and was doubting whether she was happy being a wife and mother, something that Leda obviously related to. Consequently Leda confesses about stealing the doll in an effort to connect with Nina, hoping that she would understand. That Nina literally turns on her and stabs her begs to be read as a betrayal of a female bond that Leda was trying to forge. The doll is indeed a fairly obvious plot device/symbol, and perhaps not a very elegant one, but it works to play out Leda's intensely conflicted feelings toward the American women and their family.

At the risk of stating the obvious, gender is clearly of key significance to this film and is really necessary to understanding nearly every scene. Much of Leda's behavior begs to be read in terms of her identity as a woman and a mother. So it's not just that the movie is about how "parenting is hell" or "parenting involves compromise," it's that as a mother Lena was never entitled to the same grace to pursue her own life enjoyed by the various fathers in the film--as implied in both her conversations with the male hiker and the Ed Harris character, both of whom refer quite casually to having left behind their children in order to pursue lives elsewhere. Leda is clearly sensitive to, and to some extent justifiably bitter about, double standards surrounding male vs. female parenting and the expectation that women must naturally assume the role of child-rearing.

This also helps explain her seething contempt for the American tourists, who are (on top of their general noxiousness) are a picture of toxic gender stereotypes. The men in the family either treat women as sex objects or dismiss them as "cunts" and "bitches." In the movie-theater scene, neither Leda nor the female manager is able to command their respect, and they only shut up after they are put in their place by the father which only adds to Leda's rage. Hence the irony of her finally being called a "bitch" by Nina, after thinking that Nina was perhaps in a position to relate to Leda woman-to-woman. The women in the family are just as noxious for having internalized the men's misogynistic attitudes toward them.
All in all, a welcome corrective to the swaths of mainstream movies and TV shows nowadays which lay claim to "female empowerment" simply because they cast a woman as a superhero or whatever, as if feminism were a matter of showing a female character who knows how to shoot a gun and land a spaceship. The women in this movie are not "strong," thank god: they're messy, thoughtful, confused, impulsive, horny, bitter, intelligent, awkward, and a million other things besides.

Also, a minor thing, but I love how Gyllenhaal and her cinematography shoot all of the women in this film, finding beauty in Colman's naturally saggy body and Johnson's crow's-feet. Arguably no mainstream Hollywood movie nowadays would dare to show someone like Johnson sans eye makeup (let alone cast Colman as a sexually viable woman of 48).

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