Note: We're changing the focus on the films that Jill and I will be reviewing here on "The Noodle" for the time being. With movie theaters being shut down across the land, we'll be looking at some of the newest releases from Netflix, so you'll know what to watch--and what not to watch--at home during this unprecedented time of social distancing. And now you get to make your own popcorn!
STARS: Amy Ryan, Gabriel Byrne, Reed Burney
DIRECTOR : Liz Garbus
GENRE: Drama/ Mystery-Suspense
Mari Gilbert is a multi-faceted character, and Academy Award nominee Amy Ryan shows that she is fully capable of hitting on all those cylinders in the just released Lost Girls from Netflix. One by one, those layers are peeled back, revealing more and more details about Gilbert, and they are not flattering to her.
Gilbert's daughter, Shannan, went missing in the Long Island, New York area in 2010. Mari has two other young girls, and together the three of them are searching for answers. But as those layers are peeled back, it's revealed that Mari gave Shannan up to be raised by foster care when she couldn't control her. And later, as Shannan is revealed to be a prostitute, her mother doesn't question where the money is coming from when her daughter makes payments to her. Now, seemingly out of a sense of guilt and regret, mom becomes a take-no-bullshit crusader for the truth, It's a gritty, bravura performance from Ryan, and this is her film.
The scenes where Mari Gilbert is going hard up against an apathetic male dominated police force that places different levels of value upon different types of human lives--and "prostitute" occupies the lowest rung with them--are the best.
The interchanges between Ryan and Gabriel Byrne as Richard Dormer, the Suffolk County police commissioner, are the most intriguing. Dormer shows a reluctant but steady metamorphosis toward growing a pair as the validity of the evidence that Gilbert is presenting to him becomes overwhelming.
Reed Burney adds a smarmy touch as a doctor who acts more like a mafioso than a medical professional--arrogant and condescending--and we're naturally going to think there's something fishy about him.
I want to say a word here about semantics and how they've been changed over time by political correctness. The words "prostitute" and "sex worker" are used interchangeably in Lost Girls, depending upon who is speaking. The men tend to say prostitute. The women tend to say sex worker. The term sex worker, however, attempts to give the world's oldest profession a sense of legitimacy, as if we are now supposed to think of it in the same light as a regular office job.
I don't like it.
It's got nothing to do with being male or female. It's about calling a spade a spade. Prostitution is a dangerous and ill-advised game, as this dark film so clearly points out.
You may find the ending of Lost Girls to be unsatisfying, but it's only staying true to the facts of the non-fiction book by Robert Kolker the movie is based on. Over a dozen still unsolved murders of female prostitutes in the area have been attributed to the Long Island Serial Killer.
Grade: B +