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Maggie Gyllenhaal explains how ‘The Lost Daughter’ lets women feel seen

Olivia Colman as Leda. CR: YANNIS DRAKOULIDIS/NETFLIX © 2021.

Actress Maggie Gyllenhaal makes her directorial debut in The Lost Daughter, one of the most critically acclaimed movies of the year that's racking up award nominations left and right. 

Maggie tells ABC Audio the movie takes a hard look at a little-shown side of the female psyche and features two mothers acting out in different ways after struggling to live up to expectations.  That experience, says Gyllenhaal, is universal but not explored enough in film.

"Many many women have spent a whole long time watching movies where there was no one for us to immediately identify with," she explained, adding she wanted the audience to think, "This person doesn't look exactly like me, but I'm going to find a way in to understand their experience and have it be important to my experience." 

Peter Sarsgaard, Maggie's husband, who co-stars in the movie, recalled when the audience at the Venice International Film Festival, where the movie premiered globally, praised Maggie's vision.  "I remember several people who came up to her and they feel that need to say, 'You did something to me.  I'm thinking.  I'm feeling,'" he said.

Another cast member, Olivia Colman, explained why she jumped at the opportunity to star in the film, saying, "I've never seen this woman depicted so honestly before on screen and I wanted to have a crack at it."

Echoing those remarks was Dakota Johnson, who was interested because the movie explored "an unhappy mother and wife -- you're not supposed to be that."

"This idea that Nina wanted more for herself and had never really been seen and wasn't being nourished in her heart and her mind just resonated with me," she continued. "I found it heartbreaking and so real and so common." 

The Lost Daughter premieres Friday on Netflix.

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