Review: Lost Girls (Sundance 2020)


Title: Lost Girls
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Robert Kolker
Starring: Amy Ryan, Dean Winters, Thomasin McKenzie
Runtime: 1 hrs 35 mins

What It Is: Mari Gilbert (Ryan) expects her eldest daughter Shannan for dinner while juggling two jobs and two more daughters. When Shannan doesn’t show up, Mari figures she just didn’t care but receives a strange call from a person claiming to be a doctor. The more time goes by, the more she realizes something bad may have happened to Shannon. In the process of establishing her daughter as a missing person, other girls are found in the same area Shannon was last seen–dead. Gilbert fights to finally find what happened to her daughter.

What We Think: I was really looking forward to this one. Color me an Office fan, because the sight of Ryan’s lovely image got me puppy-eyed all the way to the theater. But, surprise-surprise, this is yet another flick standing in the “we based this on a true story, we swear” line. Not that much of the narrative feels in any major way forged… it’s just, for the movie it is and wants to be, we’ve already seen it be done and be done better (eg. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, that whole “tough-mom-complex in a true-crime situation”). It was derivative. The characters were boxed-in versions of themselves with very limited if not underwhelmed reactions despite the situation and their actions. It’s predictable, one-note, and slow, though I couldn’t say I didn’t at least appreciate McKenzie’s emotional efforts into her performance.

Our Grade: D, This is yet another one of those “based on…” movies where I feel like I missed out on a really good, dark, revealing documentary. What leftover information you get in white text over black screen at the end turned out to be far more interesting than the whole movie itself… makes me wonder what else was left out. Man, I really wish this was just a documentary. Too much of a cookie-cutter narrative to really feel thorough. I wanna know about the real thing.

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