Starring Amy Ryan, Thomasin McKenzie,Gabriel Byrne
Directed by Liz Garbus
Rating: ** ½ (two and a half stars)
Much of this true-life harrowing story of a distraught mother’s search for a daughter who goes missing in Long Island,feels like documented evidence dipped and dried in pools of dehydrated melodrama.
The plot as it uncovers the death of several young women buried in the hushed upperclass wealth of Long Island, has the potential to knock our socks off. Tragically , as the law enforcement lets the mother down, this film too is not a really worthy look-see at a crime that shook America in 2010 when a young woman Shannan Gilbert disappeared.
The cops’ antipathy apparently has to do with the missing girl being a sex worker. As a sardonic cop says somewhere during the investigation that’s opened up by the persistent mother, “I’ve never seen so much time being wasted on a hooker’s murder.”
Right. Hookers are best buried and forgotten.
This means, in principle, that a woman who is not socially ‘up there’ deserves less justice than if a girl had disappeared from a normal workingclass family.It is a shocking moral discrepancy and one that, I’m afraid, this film seems incapable of shouldering let alone resolving. What we see is a mother’s relentless search for her daughter and how her other two daughter specially the teenager Sherry(Thomasin Mackenzie who was so memorable as the Jewish girl in Jojo Rabbit) come to terms with the fact that their missing sister was earning her bucks for ….well you you know the word that rhymes with shucks.
While director Lis Garbus does a commendable job of throwing light on an unpardonable crime cover-up, the treatment of the subject is often dry and pedantic.What could have been a haunting experience for viewers ends up as just a reasonably stirring echo of a crime and reluctant punishment that humanity must not forget.
The story deserved an epic treatment.All its gets is an emotionless sapped-out drama where the tensions are entirely controlled by the principal actress Amy Ryan’s dramatic skills.Ms Ryan is just about adequate in bringing out the mother’s grief and determination. Admittedly it is not easy to feel any sympathy for a woman who lets her daughter earn though disrepute. No easy solution for life at the edges is provided in this drama of blunt edges and sharp disappointments.
PS. This morning I read about a priest who died in prison after being sentenced for life for murdering model 60 eras ago. When is Netflix doing this one?