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
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • 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.

Plot summary[edit]

Khaila Richards (Halle Berry) is a drug addict who is addicted to crack cocaine. The film starts with her breastfeeding her baby in an abandoned squat. As she lays the child down to leave, the other squatters tell her that she can't leave the baby there crying. Khaila takes the child outside and hides him in a box in the trash so she can go get high. She promises to come back, puts a board over the box, and leaves. The next morning, the trash is being collected and everything is thrown in the garbage truck, but at the last moment the workers see the baby lying in the box and the infant is taken to the hospital.

At the hospital, a social worker named Margaret Lewin (Jessica Lange), finds out that the baby was born addicted to crack cocaine and that his name is Isaiah (Marc John Jefferies). She develops a strong bond with him and decides to bring him home to live with her husband and daughter. Meanwhile, Khaila wakes up and notices her breasts are leaking milk but her baby is not there. She runs to the garbage hysterical and starts rooting through the trash looking for Isaiah. An indigent comes out and tells her to leave saying there had been enough ruckus that morning with police talking about dead babies. After realizing what has happened, she leaves. Later that night, she is arrested for shoplifting and enters a rehab program.

The film cuts to three years later and Isaiah has been officially adopted by the Lewins. Khaila is clean and rents a room in an apartment. She goes to a facility and meets her caseworker who is teaching her how to read. While reading a book about a pregnant woman, she breaks down to tears and confesses to her caseworker that she put her baby in the trash. Khaila then learns through her caseworker that her baby is still alive, so they hire the lawyer Kadar Lewis (Samuel L. Jackson) to contest the adoption. A lengthy court battle ensues which quickly turns into a broader issue of race. In the end, the court decides to give custody back to Khaila. Isaiah fights when forced to leave the Lewins and doesn't adjust well to living with Khaila.

Khaila, realizing that Isaiah does not consider her his mother, eventually calls Margaret and tells her that she is going to let Isaiah live with them until he understands what is going on. She states that all she cares about is Isaiah and wants him to be happy. Margaret and Khaila hug and walk in as Isaiah runs and embraces Margaret. The two sit down and watch Isaiah play as the camera zooms out.



Losing Isaiah received mixed reviews from critics, as it holds a 45% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 29 reviews. However, Jessica Lange's performance was critically praised.


External links[edit]