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The Crown star fronted the film, a directorial debut for actress-turned director Maggie Gyllenhaal, as a middle-aged professor Leda Caruso (Coleman) heads on holiday by herself to Greece.
Her peaceful holiday is interrupted by a rambunctious Italian-American family, among whom is a beautiful but mysterious young woman called Nina (Dakota Johnson).
Viewers are taken along on Leda’s journey following a disturbing incident, which sees the professor acting out unpredictably and leads to the flashback of her own personal backstory as a young woman, played by Jessie Buckley.
The two-hour-long film was released on New Year’s Day, and now fans are trying to discover what really happened at the end.
Warning: Spoilers for The Lost Daughter in the rest of this article.
Throughout the film The Lost Daughter, Leda admires Nina as a young mother who is struggling with her daughter, Elena.
When Elena went missing for a short amount of time on the beach, Leda stole the young girl’s toy doll.
This upset the small child during their trip to Greece and caused Nina’s family to relentlessly search for the doll and even post “missing” posters for the toy.
Leda then reminisced about her own struggles with her daughters Bianca and Martha while she had the doll hidden in her apartment.
Leda found out that Nina is having a love affair with a member of the resort staff, Will (Paul Mescal), but keeps their affair under wraps and even lends her room out to the pair for obvious reasons.
Nina naturally fears the worst if her husband Toni (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) was to find out about her affair, but it’s suggested that he’s involved in criminal activities and could be capable of killing her.
During an argument in Leda’s flat, the professor says she’s an “unnatural mother”, while she opens up about the emotional struggles that come with motherhood. Leda then admits to stealing Nina’s child’s doll and uses the excuse that she was just “playing”.
This causes Nina to flip out furiously and stab Leda in her stomach with the hatpin that Leda bought and gave to her earlier in the film. Nina quickly leaves Leda’s apartment while Leda deals with the blood from her wound.
Shortly after, Leda packs up her belongings and escapes the resort. However, she gets out of the car as she leaves and stumbles onto the beach where she collapses.
Miraculously, she wakes up the next morning to the sound of crashing waves on the shore and gets a phone call from her children who are relieved to find out she is alive after fearing the worst.
The call is portrayed alongside shots of her touching her wound before she corrects her daughters: “No, I’m alive, actually.”
She then peels an orange using the same snake-like motions she performed to open the fruit when Bianca and Martha were younger.
She replies to her daughters, “Go on, tell me all about it.”
We are then immersed in a final flashback, to when Leda peels open an orange with her daughters while they whisper: “Peel it like a snake, don’t let it break.”
In the credits, we then see Leda sitting on the beach peeling the orange while still on the phone.
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