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), an African-American crack cocaine addict, while craving her next hit, abandons her baby Isaiah in the rubbish, promising to "come back later". The next day, the baby narrowly escapes death in the garbage truck and is sent to hospital where they discover he is also addicted to crack through his mother's addiction. A white social worker named Margaret Lewin (Jessica Lange) while caring for Isaiah, grows increasingly fond of him and eventually adopts him to live with her and her white husband, Charles (David Strathairn) and daughter, Hannah. 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. 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 Khalia, much to the Lewins' horror and sadness.

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 He becomes increasingly withdrawn but is also prone to violent public outbursts.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



Losing Isaiah received mixed reviews from critics.

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


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