Based on the book of the same name, ‘Lost Girls‘ dramatizes the story of Mari Gilbert and the questions surrounding her daughter’s disappearance and murder at the hand of the Long Island Serial Killer (LISK). The movie is directed by Liz Garbus and made its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival and widely released on Netflix.
Mari Gilbert (Amy Ryan) gets a call from her daughter Shannan (Sarah Wisser) saying she is coming home the next day to visit. However, when she does not show, her younger sisters Sherre (Thomasin McKenzie) and Sarra (Oona Laurence) begin to worry. She calls the police, but none of the detectives seem interested in finding her, especially since she is a prostitute. When she confronts Detective Dean Bostick (Dean Winters), the local authorities finally begin looking, only to discover four female bodies. This pressures the soon-to-be-retired Commissioner Richard Dorman (Gabriel Byrne) to begin an investigation into a gated community that holds many secrets.
I first heard of LISK from the A&E docuseries The Killing Season, which had an episode dedicated to Sherre Gilbert and the other girls found in the South Shore barrier islands. It is a harrowing tale and I really liked how this movie told it. It approached the subject with reverence and respect for the victims, which I greatly appreciated.
There is a tendency in biopics or films based on true crime cases to portray those involved as perfectly as possible. However, Shannan’s story is portrayed as she was, a tough, stubborn woman who did make mistakes, but ultimately loved her daughters. Amy Ryan was at the top of her game in the role. She nailed the part and brought the character to life in an excellent way.
I also want to praise McKenzie and Laurence as the younger sisters. They were spot on with their portrayals as Shannan’s younger sisters. They both want her to come home and the way they present the conflicts with their mother is a credit to their acting abilities. Winters and Byrne were also well chosen as the ambivalent investigators who want to get past this case.
My only issue with the movie is it gives no time to Shannan. We only see her briefly in a few flashbacks and on a home video her family watches. It did not need much, maybe just between two and five minutes so we get to know her and the choices she made. We get to feel that a bit through her family, but I felt it was lacking just a bit.
Since this is a true story, that makes it sensitive to touch on, but Liz Garbus does an excellent job making the movie feel personal, moving, and at times disappointing at the lackluster movement of the authorities who are supposed to serve victims of the crime.
Bottom line, Lost Girls has ripples of a true crime film with some excellent performances, touching on a real incident that affected so many victims and their families.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Strong foul language, Sexual innuendo
FAVORITE QUOTE: It is our job to make sure these girls are not forgotten.
Check out the trailer below:
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