Box art for Losing Isaiah

Losing Isaiah


Jessica Lange plays an adoptive mother who gives an abandoned child a new chance at life. Halle Berry is the birth mother who cleans up her life and sets out to reclaim the child.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

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movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

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    reviews counted: 15
    see all Losing Isaiah reviews
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Top Critic Reviews

Rotten: Not only does this lowest-common denominator conclusion backfire, it insults anyone who invested their time getting involved in the whole thing.

- Desson Thomson, Washington Post, Saturday, January 1, 2000

Fresh: Losing Isaiah transcends the custody issue and finds drama in the black-white polarities that neither character can escape.

- Edward Guthmann, San Francisco Chronicle, Tuesday, June 18, 2002


- Emanuel Levy, EmanuelLevy.Com, Thursday, June 24, 2010

Audience Reviews

3 stars

Should an African-American child be raised by Anglo-American parents? This is the perplexing question raised in Stephen Gyllengaal's tragic "Losing Isaiah", the story of the desperate custody battle between the white adoptive parents and the black biological mother of little four year old Isaiah. Khaila Richards has discovered that the baby she left in a cardboard box is still alive and lays claim to him, stating that he should not be raised by parents of a differing colour. Margaret and Charles Lewin will not concede without a fight though, and they enlist an African-American attorney to represent their cause. Based on the novel by Seth J. Margolis, the film sees baby Isaiah being abandoned by his drug addict black mother Khaila Richards in a bin shortly after his birth. He is found and taken to hospital where Margaret Lewin, a white doctor caring for him, decides to adopts him as her own child. Isaiah fits well into the Lewin family despite hailing from a different racial background and he grows into a happy, cherished little boy. But four years later, Khaila is back on the scene demanding custody of her son back now that she is clean. And it seems the Lewins' have a fight on their hands to keep the child since the family court system not only favours children being returned to their parents but also the idea of people only being allowed to foster/adopt children of the same racial background as themselves. The quality of acting was excellent from all members of the cast. Jessica Lange gave a great depiction as Margaret Lewin, the mother who doted on Isaiah with as much love as if she had given birth to him herself. Although, on the surface, it was quite hard to like Khaila Richards, Halle Berry gave the role substance and managed to make her an almost sympathetic character as the film went on. However, the real praise has to be reserved for the tiny Marc John Jefferies, who played Isaiah. Anyone who has ever said small children can't act or tried to excuse mediocre child acting on the basis of the child's age needs to see this boy's first-class performance despite the fact he must barely have been out of nappies when he appeared in this film. I found this film quite realistic in that respect and could completely empathise with the Lewin family's sense of helpless and disbelief as they risked losing their son to a mother who dumped him purely on the basis of they had the wrong skin colour and DNA. 'Losing Isaiah' certainly shows that a child's sense of security and love must always come first, regardless of what the biological mother wants or whether his skin tone matches his adoptive parents.

- StaisilD, Thursday, April 17, 2008

5 stars

Isaiah is pulled between his mother and his foster mom.Which to me is unfair to the child.I would think if you want whats best for the child the first thing you do is help the mother clean up her act and wait a month or two and give the child back.Way to many mothers are pushed away from their kids when all they needed was some guidance.This movie will have you caught between anger and tears.At least thats what it did to me.

- enchanted66, Wednesday, June 25, 2008

5 stars

what a good movie i cried when i saw that movie who puts a baby in the dumpster this is lyfe not a game or toy.

- laraineperkins, Monday, October 13, 2008