Maggie Gyllenhaal has spoken about the importance of showing truthful depictions of motherhood, saying “women are born into an agreement to stay silent” about their experiences.

The actress makes her directorial debut with an adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s novel The Lost Daughter, which stars Olivia Colman as a college professor who becomes obsessed with a young woman and her daughter while on holiday and confronts her own memories of early motherhood.

Arriving at the movie’s premiere at the BFI London Film Festival, Gyllenhaal, who also wrote the screenplay told the PA news agency: “There are all sorts of things about our experiences as women in the world that I think without even knowing it, we’re kind of born into an agreement to stay silent about.

“And Elena Ferrante broke the agreement and wrote all these things down, that in some cases I didn’t even know I felt until she articulated them.”

She added: “Always as an actress, I’ve been trying to tell the truth, to move away from fantasy to into reality.

“I’m much more interested in reality, I think most people are more moved by reality.

The Lost Daughter UK premiere – BFI London Film Festival 2021
Maggie Gyllenhaal (Ian West/PA)

“What relationship is more fundamental and intense than your relationship with your mother and then your relationship with your children?

“And to be able to tell the truth about that, I hope will provide a kind of excitement and comfort to people who, like myself, probably like most of us, thought we had to fit our feelings into a very small box, when in fact our feelings about our mothers, and about mothering ourselves, are massive.

“The spectrum is huge, and if we can allow all those things to be normal, and OK, I think we’ll have a much more interesting life.”

Chernobyl star Jessie Buckley, who plays Colman’s character in her younger days, added: “I think it’s like how we see ourselves, the only one who can change the course of how we live our life as ourselves and it definitely enlightened me to not judge what really being a woman is.

The Lost Daughter UK premiere – BFI London Film Festival 2021
Olivia Colman with co-star Dakota Johnson, director Maggie Gyllenhaal and co-star Jessie Buckley (Ian West/PA)

“Women are brilliant and we are full and we are complex and there’s so much that I don’t know and there’s so much that there is to know and understand and whatever an audience, or whoever comes to see this, wants to take away from it, it’s there for the taking.”

The Lost Daughter is due to be released in UK cinemas next year.