Losing Isaiah

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Losing Isaiah
Losing isaiah.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Stephen Gyllenhaal
Produced by Naomi Foner Gyllenhaal
Hawk Koch
Screenplay by Naomi Foner Gyllenhaal
Based on Losing Isaiah
by Seth Margolis
Music by Mark Isham
Cinematography Andrzej Bartkowiak
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date
  • March 17, 1995 (1995-03-17) (United States)
Running time
111 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $17 million
Box office $7.6 million[1]

Losing Isaiah is a 1995 American drama film starring Jessica Lange and Halle Berry, directed by Stephen Gyllenhaal. It is based on the novel of the same name by Seth Margolis. The screenplay is written by Naomi Foner Gyllenhaal. The original music score is composed by Mark Isham.


Khaila Richards (Halle Berry) is an addict who is addicted to crack cocaine. One day, she abandons her baby in a dumpster in order to get high without being disturbed by the other addicts, promising to "come back later." The next day, workers narrowly avoid shipping him away with the garbage truck until they find him and send him to the hospital.

At the hospital, a social worker named Margaret Lewin (Jessica Lange) decides to take care of Isaiah in the hospital after discovering he is addicted to crack cocaine as well due to his mother's addiction. He overcomes it, and Margaret adopts him to live with her husband, Charles and daughter, Hannah. At the same time, Khaila is caught shoplifting and is sent to rehab, at first unaware Isaiah is alive.

Three years later, Khaila is finished with treatment and confesses to her case worker that she abandoned Isaiah, but finds out he is alive. They hire a lawyer, Kadar Lewis (Samuel L. Jackson) to contest the adoption. It turns into a battle about race shortly after, but the judge overturns the adoption, returning Isaiah to Khalia, much to he and the Lewins' horror and sadness.

Even after weeks pass, Isaiah does not consider Khalia his mother and expresses public outbursts as a result, some in a diner and a day-care. Khalia ultimately calls Margaret to arrange her to have custody over Isaiah again until he is older and therefore able to understand the custody issues and the adoption. The film ends with Isaiah, his biological mother, and adopted mother building blocks, hinting that they are building a life.



Losing Isaiah received mixed reviews from critics, as it holds a 45% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 29 reviews.


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