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The dark daughter or the labyrinths of motherhood

“The Dark Daughter” is a film that tells us about that motherhood that weighs too much, that sometimes steals identities and burdens the mind with feelings of guilt. Its protagonists are women with whom it is very easy to identify.

The dark daughter or the labyrinths of motherhood

Last update: 07 March, 2022

the dark daughter (The last daughter) is a tribute to that side of motherhood that is not always talked about. That where the “I” is, on occasions, plundered by tyrannical children who weigh on the arms, who frustrate professional development and who make us doubt about the true desire to be mothers at times. Dimensions all of them that always end up in the bitter feeling of guilt.

In fact, the film itself has its beginning in an image that is no less metaphorical. A woman walks into the gloom of the sunset to the edge of a beach, where she collapses, where she falls almost lifeless, exhausted. That image is nothing more than the epilogue of a story full of chiaroscuro, feminist shades and veins where the eternal and desperate contradiction of life itself appears.

This production, beautifully starring Olivia Colman and directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal, has brought with it numerous awards and several Oscar nominations. It is a correct and interesting adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s novel that, although it bothers and disturbs many times, is almost compulsory viewing.

“Children are an overwhelming responsibility.”

-Leda, The Dark Daughter-

The dark daughter or the eternal crisis of motherhood

The atmosphere of the film is one more character that instantly seduces and soon suffocates us with a constant sense of threat. The plot begins with the arrival of Leda Caruso, a 48-year-old literature teacher on a Greek island. His goal is very simple: rest and continue with his work. However, as soon as we arrive at that location we can already see that things will not be easy.

The fruit in her room is rotten, the fog siren breaks the silence of the night, as does the sudden flash of the lighthouse and the restless cicadas that like to settle on the pillow of the resolute teacher. However, the most decisive thing happens the next day. Leda looks for a quiet place on the beach to rest and, suddenly, the calm is broken by the arrival of a noisy family.

The environmental violence of the film is almost a constant. The protagonist quickly comes into conflict with these figures for having her own voice, for not giving them her place in that space on the beach. Soon, establishes an ambivalent relationship with two women: one pregnant and the other with whom he feels a quick and indefinable attraction. It is about Nina (Dakota Johnson) and her little daughter, who takes him back to episodes of her own motherhood…

When motherhood erases the identity of women

The presence of the young mother with that child always clinging to her arms and hyperdependent evokes memories of Leda herself. Through flashbacks we discover her story, the imprint of the complicated upbringing of her two daughters, dealing in turn with the attempt to advance in her professional life. Both spheres seem incompatible and even more so when a new love arises, passionate and blinding.

The film reveals to us in a raw -and real- way the most complicated scenes of motherhood. Of demanding, clingy, sometimes tyrannical children, but always in need of love and attention. Once again, the focus is on how complicated it is to emerge unscathed from this process, sometimes magical and other times turbulent.

It is a journey in which many women perceive how their own identity is diluted while the tantrums of the children are attended to and life passes, with all its opportunities, those that, perhaps, will not return again.

The female gaze that scrutinizes itself and others

the dark daughter is dominated by gazes of women looking at each other, who scrutinize each other shamelessly, compassionately at times, threateningly at others. Then they turn that gaze towards themselves to make contact with their own miseries, their own dramas.

If there is a function that literature and also cinema fulfills, it is to bring us uncomfortable characters in which to see ourselves reflected. Figures, archetypes and presences that reveal the darkest parts of the human being. Leda (Olivia Colman) and Nina (Dakota Johnson) establish a disturbing bond in which one serves as a mirror for the other.but where their creepy inner worlds emerge.

the dark daughter and the silenced traumas

Leda’s stay on this far from idyllic Greek island causes her memories of the past to flow like blood from a wound that never healed. Emotions unlock like bruises on the skin. The trauma of certain decisions she made in the past flows into the present almost like spasms. However, the dark daughter It is not a moralistic film.

At no time is it sought to justify or grant forgiveness to those mistakes that everyone can make. The only thing that is aspired is that we pay attention to people with whom anyone can identify, fallible people. Like the mothers. Because nothing is as contradictory and chaotic as life itself. And if sometimes the children are heavy and sticky, there comes a time when what weighs the most is not having them in your arms anymore…

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