Lost Girls is a Netflix mystery based on true story of the disappearance and murder of at least 10 sex workers in Long Island, New York, Shannan Gilbert amongst them, and the families hard and long drawn out battle for justice – as well as Robert Kolker’s book Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery.
Directed by documentary maker Liz Garbus, Lost Girls focuses on the disappearance of Shannan Gilbert in May 2010 and her mother Mari Gilbert’s battle to find out where she is, find out the truth and to be taken seriously. It is a dark and intensely emotional film and a touching portrayal of what happened, depicting the pain, anguish and anger felt by family and friends.
The rather sedate pacing is the most off putting thing, which does test your patience. This is offset though by the raw emotion on show, with the bitterness and rage and sense of injustice slowly building. This pent up anger is directed at the sluggish and uncaring response of the police, with the ending bringing a brutal and melancholic release. Garbus is careful and takes her time, crafting a respectful but engrossing film in a similar way that Clint Eastwood did with Sully and The Mule.
Amy Ryan is superb as the grief stricken and utterly determined mother Mari Gilbert, her fury is palpable. Quite often on the receiving end of her persistence is police commissioner Richard Dormer, played with ease by Gabriel Byrne. After Amy the next scene stealer is Reed Birney who plays the slimey and smarmy Peter Hackett, one of the head honchos in the fancy gated community.
Whilst it may be a bit slow Lost Girls is a raw drama with high levels of anger, grief and melancholia at its core and a brilliant lead performance by Amy Ryan. It is worth your time just do not expect to walk away from this full of cheer.