‘An unsolved American mystery’ scrolls across the screen immediately following the films title card and harrowing opening clip. Letting you know right off the bat that what you’re about to witness, isn’t likely to end in the way you’d hope.
Liz Garbus takes on the true story of the murders of a group of young girls, found in a gated Long Island community. More specifically, the disappearance of Shannon Gilbert and her mother’s motivated, self investigation. Police inactivity and lack of professionalism leads Mari Gilbert (Amy Ryan), to take matters into her own hands. Is it corruption? Is there a cover-up hidden within the community? Or is this really multiple horrific acts caused by one persons own obsession? This is what Mari, with the help of her other children and family members of the victims, is trying to get to the bottom of.
It seems no one plays the role of a gritty, distressed mother better than Amy Ryan (take Gone Baby Gone as reference) and her central performance here is a shining moment in her career. Her performance of a struggling, less than satisfactory mother, is elevated in the height of the movie’s mystery. Her relentless battle against the law enforcement, media and the residents of the beach community demonstrates her ability to lead a movie and begs the question why doesn’t it happen often?
Despite this praise, the weight of the story is somewhat lifted thanks to stellar performances from Thomasin McKenzie (Jojo Rabbit) and Lola Kirke (Mistress America). Thomasin takes on the role of Sherre Gilbert, the middle child of the family, who is the angel on her mums shoulder. Confidently walking side by side with Amy, even stealing many of the scenes they share. Lola portrays Kim, the sister to one of the victims, who sheds light on the circumstances in which link the victims. Assuming the big sister role for Sherre in Shannon’s disappearance.
Coming in at a brief 95 minutes, Lost Girls dark realism isn’t explored as much as it could have been. Its narrative constantly throws thoughts and theories your direction, then quickly moves onto something else before you even have a chance to fully engage in the story.
Its change of focus becomes a constant hindrance, and loses a lot of care when it comes to how they want the story to be told. By the time the final credits appear, you’re left with the feeling that so much more could have been done and the true nature of the events deserved that extra attention to detail.
Lost Girls, which is available on Netflix, fails to become as compelling as the true story it’s trying to tell. The movie is at its best when it’s in the hands of the actors, and not with its production. Regardless, the shocking reality makes this a must watch.