TRUTH SEEKERS: Amy Ryan as Mari Gilbert (left) and Thomasin McKenzie as her daughter Sherre Gilbert in Netflix’s Lost Girls.

Film review: Lost Girls (15)

With the cinemas among the first places to be shut down by the coronavirus pandemic, it’s natural that we’ll be turning to the many streaming sites for our film fix over the coming weeks.

Lost Girls, based on the true story of the of the investigation surrounding the Long Island serial killer, is the latest offering to be snapped up by Netflix and dropped last Friday (March 20).

The main focus of the true-crime tale is the disappearance of Shannan Gilbert, one of the many potential victims of the still-unidentified killer.

It’s important to take that on board before you hit play, as this isn’t a story about unravelling the mystery and seeing the bad guy brought to justice.

No, it’s very much focused on the struggle Shannan’s family – and the relatives of some of the other families – faced in a bid to get her disapperance taken seriously.

Her mum Mari, played by Amy Ryan of US Office fame, is very much the main character here and her battle with the authorities will certainly strike a chord with all parents.

Having to deal head on with some very hard truths about what her Shannan did for a living, Mari also struggles to keep her younger daughters Sherre (Thomasin McKenzie) and Sarra (Oona Laurence) on an even keel.

With the police not overly helpful, Mari retraces Shannan’s last know steps – and her investigation takes to a very peculiar gated community on the marshy outer reaches of Long Island.

It’s only when other bodies begin turning up that the authorities escalate their efforts, with Gabriel Byrne’s Richard Dormer the only one who really listens to her.

Dean Winters’ Dean Bostick best portrays how the rest of the police feel about the situation, belittling and sidelining the mother’s efforts at every step.

His indifference towards women working in the sex trade is quite harrowing, given that his chief role is to protect and serve.

There are also some solid showings from a group of other women who come together to support each other in the wake of the serial killer’s actions.

Of them, Lola Kirke’s Kim, the sister of a victim who is a sex worker herself, is the stand-out.

Lost Girls, directed by Liz Garbus, certainly wouldn’t have felt out of place on the big screen.

It’s a strong story that delivers its message without shouting at the audience and had my full interest throughout.

Sure, it does have quite a narrow focus and tells a bit of a one-sided tale, but it’s well worth your time.

There’s also a bit of a stinger right at the end, which will leave you heading straight to Google…

Voice Verdict: 7/10 (reviewed on Netflix)
+ Tells a strong true-cime story
+ Amy Ryan is great
+ Gets its message across well
– Narrow focus on one victim

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