Losing Isaiah

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Losing Isaiah
Losing isaiah.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byStephen Gyllenhaal
Produced byNaomi Foner Gyllenhaal
Hawk Koch
Screenplay byNaomi Foner Gyllenhaal
Based onLosing Isaiah
by Seth Margolis
Music byMark Isham
CinematographyAndrzej Bartkowiak
Edited byHarvey Rosenstock
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • March 17, 1995 (1995-03-17) (United States)
Running time
111 minutes
CountryUnited States
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.


While craving her next hit, Khaila Richards (Halle Berry), an African-American crack cocaine addict, abandons her baby Isaiah in the rubbish. She promises to "come back later", but then passes out from the drug. The next day, the baby narrowly escapes death in the garbage truck. Then, Isaiah is sent to the hospital, where they discover he is also addicted to crack through his mother's addiction. While caring for Isaiah, a social worker named Margaret Lewin (Jessica Lange) grows increasingly fond of him and eventually adopts him to live with her and her husband, Charles (David Strathairn) and daughter, Hannah. Meanwhile, Khaila is caught shoplifting and is sent to rehab, unaware Isaiah is alive.

Three years later, Khaila successfully completes her treatment and confesses to her case worker that she abandoned Isaiah in the alley. Unknown to Khaila, the case worker investigates and discovers Isaiah's adoption. They hire a lawyer, Kadar Lewis (Samuel L. Jackson) to contest the adoption. An ugly court battle ensues, with racial issues demonstrating inadequacies on both sides. The judge overturns the adoption, returning Isaiah to Khaila, much to the Lewins' horror and sadness.

Even after weeks pass, a distraught Isaiah does not consider Khaila his mother. Although he becomes increasingly withdrawn, he is also prone to violent public outbursts. Eventually, Khaila is desperate for Isaiah's happiness, and asks Margaret to step back in "for a little while... until he can understand." However, she insists she will also continue to be involved. The two mothers embrace each other, both proclaiming their love for Isaiah. The film ends with them together playing building blocks with their boy in a classroom.



Losing Isaiah received mixed reviews from critics.

It has a 45% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 29 reviews.


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