Years ago, I was a college intern on the top true-crime show, America’s Most Wanted. One case that is seared in my brain forever and resulted in abandonment of my internship was a case where a 10-year old Black girl was snatched from a pack of kids walking to the movies on Easter Sunday. Due to the slow-reaction of the police department and their rules governing what constitutes a missing person, another young life was claimed. This story is all too familiar when it comes to women color that go missing, who are often considered a non-priority by law enforcement. Just like the hundreds of young unarmed people of color and women that are shot in this country. However, what I have never seen, is a story where this same treatment is given to a poor, white girls and their families. Apparently, their lives are considers just as unimportant as those of color.
Based on Robert Kolker’s 2013 true-crime novel, Lost Girls is an in your face look at a mother’s dogmatic fight for justice against the system that failed her. After Mari Gilbert’s (Amy Ryan) eldest daughter, Shannan goes missing in an affluent Long Island neighborhood. Shannan is discovered to have been part of an online world of sex workers, composed mostly of young women from rough, working-class backgrounds. When Mari puts pressure on an indifferent, lazy police force who would rather blame Shannan and “girls like her” than waste resources on a search, Mari takes matters into her own hands. The result is the revelation a serial killer who has been lurking in plain sight all along.
What’s even worse is that the police force in question goes to great lengths to cover up the crimes of the killer just so that some of them can retire without incident.
Mostly known for her documentary (What Happened, Miss Simone?) chops, Director Liz Garbus tackles her first feature with an investigative eye geared toward a mystery rooted in inequality, injustice and ignorance. The result is grounded in specificity, heart and grit.
Amy Ryan’s commanding performance as the distraught mother desperately searching for her first-born is fiery, heartbreaking and inspirational all in one fell swoop. Ryan is the anchor of this film and the reason you are compelled through every single frame
Lost Girls digs up and reveals the forgotten voices underneath all those young women who have gone missing whose families never give up coming to Netflix on March 13th.