The Lost Daughter ending explained

The Lost Daughter ending explained: What happened to Olivia Colman’s character Leda?

Verrrrrry interesting

One of the best films to drop on Netflix in a long while is Maggie Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut The Lost Daughter. The film has a cast to die for, with Olivia Colman, Dakota Johnson, Paul Mescal and Ed Harris all turning in great performances – and it released in the UK to critical acclaim and has sat comfortably within the Netflix top 10 ever since. But The Lost Daughter is occasionally quite an ambiguous film, and leaves a lot up to interpretation with many words unsaid. This is the ending of The Lost Daughter explained, and specifically what happens to Olivia Colman’s character Leda by the time the credits roll.

Warning: Spoilers for The Lost Daughter ahead.

What is the The Lost Daughter about?

The Lost Daughter is an adaptation of the book of the same name by Elena Ferrante, and stars Olivia Colman as a professor named Leda on holiday in Greece. Her holiday tranquility is thwarted by the arrival of a loud family, featuring Nina (played by Dakota Johnson) and her very young daughter Elena. Leda begins an obsession with the young mother and daughter, and the presence of them causes flashbacks to her own relationship with motherhood and her daughters that are increasingly distressing.

The Lost Daughter – ending explained

Leda’s obsession with Nina and Elena results in Leda taking Elena’s cherished doll, which causes a lot of distress for the child. For a while, her motivations for doing so are unclear. Leda befriends Nina, but during the emotional climax of the film discusses with her that she always felt like an “unnatural mother”, and sees a lot of herself in Nina. She confesses to Nina that she stole Elena’s doll as “her way of playing”. Nina reacts in a rage and stabs Leda with a hatpin given to her by Leda earlier in the film.

Nina flees, and Leda gathers her things and leaves the hotel as she bleeds. She stops her car by the beach and collapses onto the sand. The next morning, Leda wakes up on the beach to calls from her concerned daughters who are worried that their mother might be dead. Leda tells them “I’m alive, actually”, and begins to peel and eat an orange whilst talking to them. We see flashbacks to a younger Leda and her daughters doing the same thing.

But did Leda actually die?

Although Leda says that she’s alive, the film is ambiguous on if this is true or not. The scene is dreamlike and there’s something about the whole vibe that feels like Leda could have died and this is some form of afterlife.  In the book, Leda tells her daughters on the phone “I’m dead, but I’m fine”. Director Maggie Gyllenhaal has neither confirmed or denied, and has said that she kept the script very in line with Ferrante’s book. Therefore, it remains up to audience interpretation on if Leda dies at the end or not.

The Lost Daughter is available on Netflix now. For all the latest Netflix news, drops, quizzes and memes like The Holy Church of Netflix on Facebook. 

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