Lost girls talks about that grey area of uncertainty that hurts the most. To be in that space where neither there is complete light nor unhinged darkness, is like strangulating a person but not letting him die. The idea itself creates a sort of uneasiness. Lost Girls is 2020 mystery drama directed by Liz Garbus. It is based on an investigative book written by Robert Kokler of the same name. The screenplay for the film has been ably adapted by Michael Werwie.
Shannan Gilbert a 24 year old woman goes missing from a neighborhood near Oak beach in Long island. Her mother and sister approach the Police as soon as they are convinced that something fateful happened to Shannan Gilbert. But they are met with a staunch reluctance on the part of the police officials.
The character of Mari Gilbert, the mother, is masterfully played by Amy Ryan. She has given one of her career best performance. Shannan was supposed to meet her mother a day before for dinner. She doesn’t turns up, and when the next day the family calls her she doesn’t responds. It raises the eyebrow of the younger sister, Sherre Gilbert played by Thomasine Mackenzie and she senses some foul play. The family goes to the police station to file a missing persons report but is not taken seriously. Mari Gilbert then decides to take things in her hand. She takes out her call record only to find out that Shannan’s last call was to the emergency service number 911. Some people who witnessed Shannan during this moment told that she seemed hysterical and under the influence of some substances are she ran frantically. The police didn’t reach the location until an hour even when they were only 10 minutes away from the crime scene.
But there is no one who shows any concern maybe because Amy Gilbert was not an influential personality and the administration could manage to neglect her without causing any harm to their reputation. Amy Gilbert’s voice could not be heard due to her ineffectual social status.
Accidentally a police official bumps into the body of girl that met a similar fate as Shannan’s. Soon after that four more dead bodies of girls buried in burlap sacks are found. Maureen Barnes, Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman and Amber Lynn Costello were the four girls who had been murdered. All the girls shared the same profile i.e. being sex workers in their early twenties.
Our society in general is obdurate towards the class or strata of people whom we consider to be not worthy. The deciding parameters for being worthy or non worthy are based on our hypocritical beliefs and sensibilities. A sex worker is scorned for even in the most developed societies. We devoid them of their basic rights in an apathetic manner such their life is a petty or trifling affair. In this particular case not only Shannan was a sex worker, but her mother had given her up to a foster care when she was 12 years old. Mari Gilbert never hesitated in taking money from her daughter even when she knew from where she was bringing the money. It’s a mentality even the most cerebral ones posses i.e. to cast aspirations on the character of a person as their behavior does not match our moral code. In this case too Mari Gilbert was looked down upon and blamed as if she was responsible for the disappearance of her daughter. The administration got an excuse to hide their incompetency behind it.
But Mari Gilbert is resilient. The families of the victims come together to start a vigil in the influential neighborhood.
The narrative never puts unnecessary light upon the sex worker angle but treats all the victims in an equal manner. Gabriel Byrne as Commissioner Richard Dormer is exceptional. He plays a man with a conscious who is the only ray of hope for the families of the victim. There are certain subplots that might seem unnecessary but the film is able to maintain its core. Lost Girls is a brisk 1 hour 30 minutes long mystery drama that tries to build up a narrative around the unhinged serial killer without taking any melodramatic curves.
Lost Girls is a mystery drama film, directed by Liz Garbus, based on the book Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery by Robert Kolker. It was released in the year in 2020 and is streaming on Netflix.
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