Lost Girls (2020)
Director: Liz Garbus
Writer: Michael Werwie
Starring: Amy Ryan, Thomasin McKenzie, Lola Kirke, Oona Laurence, Dean Winters, Miriam Shor, Reed Birney, Kevin Corrigan, and Gabriel Bryne
Plot: A grieving mother has to basically harass the police into investigating the case of her missing daughter.
Review: I feel a bit for Lost Girls. It’s gotta be hard to make a movie based on an unsolved crime. Even the great David Fincher, in my personal opinion, suffered a bit with Zodiac. By definition, you just don’t have the full story. You have to tell a satisfying tale when you don’t have one in real life. I think that’s why Lost Girls decided to shrink down the scope a bit. Instead of following the whole situation, we are just following one mother’s plea for help. On that front, I do think it works. It’s just unfortunate, because it does make the movie end up appearing smaller than it should’ve.
The best thing about Lost Girls by far is Amy Ryan. She is terrific in this movie. There are no punches pulled here. As the movie itself puts it, she is a pain in the ass but the kind of pain that gets stuff done. She is not a likable person but you are rooting for her the entire time. She also does a great job of showing the grief and guilt present in such a complicated person. It really is a good performance. Anyone that just knows her from The Office should be pleasantly surprised. Likewise, Thomasin Mckenzie has another really good performance here. She’s going to be a superstar. I can tell. The only thing that I think hurt both of these performances was the accent. They both seemed hindered by it a bit. I still thought they were solid overall though.
I’ve also got to give mad props to Liz Garbus. Lost Girls is her first narrative feature film. She’s usually a documentation. With that in mind, I thought she did a really good job. She nails the melancholy mood that hangs over the whole proceedings. And some of her shot compositions were extremely strong and conventional for this type of movie. I’d love to see more of her work in the future.
Like I said, I completely understand why they limited the story telling in Lost Girls. It’s hard to tell a story this big that doesn’t have concrete answers. Unfortunately, that really makes this movie feel smaller than it should’ve been. It feels like we’re missing a lot of the story. I would’ve loved to watch a two or even three part documentary on this case. Or, I don’t know… a movie longer than 95 minutes. I want to hear from the police. I want to hear from the other mothers. I want answers. And, I understand that the killer was never caught but that’s not entirely what I want anyway. The movie raises the question of was this case a cover up or just gross incompetence without ever providing much of an answer. I don’t know. I think the movie was good as it is, but I think it would’ve been a lot better had we upped the scale a bit. With this much talent, I can’t help but feeling a little disappointed we didn’t get that.
TL;DR: Lost Girls is a good, if a bit limited in scale, murder mystery with a terrific lead performance by Amy Ryan.
Score: 7/10 (Good.)