LOST GIRLS – Review by Marina Antunes

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Director Liz Garbus is no stranger to difficult stories. With a decades-spanning career in documentaries, she has brought a lot of laughter and tears to the big and small screens. It’s not too surprising that her narrative film debut, Lost Girls, is a fictional account of a real-life tragedy.

Amy Ryan stars as Mari Gilbert, a single mother of three girls whose eldest daughter Shannan runs away from home as a pre-teen. Though she builds herself a life away from her mother and siblings, she keeps in regular contact with her family, so when they don’t hear from Shannan for some time, Mari is convinced that something has happened to her eldest daughter and a mother’s search for answers pushes the launch of an investigation that eventually leads to the discovery of multiple homicide victims at the hands of the Long Island serial killer — a unsolved case which is still open today.

Garbus’ film shines a spotlight on so many issues it’s difficult to chose just one. The Gilbert’s were victims of tragedy at every turn: underemployment, lack of social support, preconceptions about sex work, ineffective police work to name just a few. Yet the Gilberts, never backed away from controversy and their efforts led them to become activists for murder victims.

Lost Girls takes the good with the bad, not shying away from the family’s troubles and it all plays into the film’s major strength and appeal, namely Garbus’ ability to capture the desperation and undying determination of a mother looking for answers.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Lost Girls is AWFJ’s Movie of the Week for March 13, 2020

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Marina Antunes

Marina has been writing and discussing film for over 15 years, first on a personal blog followed by a decade long tenure on the now retired Row Three. In 2008 she joined the writing staff at Quiet Earth, becoming Editor-In-Chief in 2014, a role she still holds. Over the years, she has also produced and hosted a number of podcasts including Before the Dawn, a long-running podcast on the Twilight franchise, Girls on Pop, a podcast on film and popular entertainment from women’s perspective and After the Credits, bi-monthly film podcast with nearly 300 episodes. Marina is a member of the Online Film Critics Society and the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, is the Vice President of the Vancouver SIGGRAPH chapter and has served on juries for several film festivals including the DOXA, St. Louis International Film Festival, and the Whistler Film Festival. She joined the Spark CG Society as Festival Director in 2014.