Hello everyone and welcome back to Movie Monday. Last week I dived into Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl, you should check it out if you haven’t already and today I am going to be talking about the movie Lost Girls, so let’s dive in. If you’re a fan of true crime, and mystery then this is a movie for you.
Lost Girls, directed by Liz Garbus is movie that is based on the book Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery written by Robert Kolker. The movie follows Mari Gilbert as she relentlessly tries to get the disappearance of her daughter taken seriously and in the process she sheds light on the bodies of unsolved murders of young girls. The book and the movie are based on the true events of the Long Island serial killer.
This movie is driven by female characters, particularly the character Mari Gilbert. Mari is a hardworking, driven, strong, single mother who is working two jobs so she can support her daughters and she is furious when the disappearance of her daughter is not taken seriously by the police. She is loud, she is determined. She is angry and she will not be sneered at and most importantly, she demands to know why the life of her daughter and the lives of other dead girls are not considered important or worth proper investigation.
Mari’s missing daughter Shannon, and all the other girls whose bodies were found were girls who struggled in life due to poverty and violence, and they made a living working as escorts and prostitutes and this is important to note because the movie’s message, in my opinion, is very clear.
Lost Girls conveys an important message, firmly stating that the lives these girls lived does not and should not matter and their circumstances should not mean that they do not deserve justice. Their deaths should be taken seriously, just as seriously as the death of a girl from a wealthy family would be taken.
Mari Gilbert is furious with the press, and this movie highlights an ongoing issue in society. When these girls are talked about in the news, they are called whores, prostitutes, sex workers etc, and Mari demands to know why no one will treat them with dignity and respect, why no one will mention that they are young girls, someone’s child, someone’s sister, someone’s friend, human beings who had hard lives and died violent deaths that they did not deserve. It is a very powerful message and the inclusion of the family members of the other girls, who form a bond with Mari because they have all lost a child, is very moving and it was brilliant to watch a movie be so brilliantly led by women.
The themes of this movie are very straightforward. This movie highlights violence against women, and how despicable it is. Poverty vs wealth is another theme as the wealth divide and how these girls are treated because of their circumstances is repeatedly mentioned in this movie, constantly questioning why it is ok that these lives are being dismissed? Quick answer, it isn’t. Another theme in this movie is the theme of taking one’s power back, and this is a movie that gives agency to the female voice especially through the character of Mari Gilbert. She will not be ignored. She will not be disrespected. She will not allow her child to be disrespected and she will not be silenced. Mari being so resilient allowed the other women to feel empowered to stand with her, and do more, and to go forth and no longer allow themselves to be dismissed. While this is a dark movie, and a very sad one as it is based on true, tragic events, there is a theme of hope within this movie. There is a lesson to be learned. You can feel Mari’s determination through the screen and you can see her undying determination to get justice for her daughter in every scene she is in. It is hopeful seeing female characters decide to keep taking action, to keep on fighting for justice. Justice and injustice of course are major themes in this movie. The injustice of the deaths of these young girls, the injustice of how they are treated by the system, by the press, the fact they were only in dangerous situations to begin with because of circumstances they could not control such as poverty. This movie just captures how unfair it is that these girls never got the chance to grow up, to find love, to find happiness, to perhaps better themselves financially all because a violent killer considered them to be disposable, and then in death they were considered disposable too until someone said enough is enough. They are not and have never been disposable, and that person was the character Mari Gilbert.
This story is told from the point of view of Mari Gilbert so at times it seems slow moving, this represents how she felt the investigation was slow moving. The pacing is very clever because at times I felt frustrated, wondering why is isn’t anyone doing more and then it clicked, that is the point. Audiences can empathise with Mari’s frustration, and the pacing matches how things would have been from her point of view. As someone who really enjoys movies, and all of the little details that go into making a movie, I thought this choice was very clever.
There is only one scene in this movie where we get a different point of view and that is during a retirement party for a detective. His point of view is very powerful because the movie gives him a moment to finally understand where Mari is coming from. At his party, there are strippers who have been hired for entertainment and this detective looks around watching all of his colleagues enjoying the show. He can’t enjoy the show, in fact he is horrified because it finally sinks in. The lost girls, the ones who have been repeatedly dismissed were all girls who worked similar jobs, strippers and escorts etc. Suddenly he feels like a hypocrite because here he was, at a party where everyone is enjoying the strippers and yet when it comes to investigating the horrific and violent murders of these young girls, they were dismissed because they were “only” strippers and escorts. He is humbled and he vows to do better and it’s a little too late but at least he’s had the realisation.
What I liked about this was it was a key opportunity for Garbus to employ the male gaze but instead she did not, she instead chose to focus on an emotional development which was performed excellently and as a viewer you could see the gears turning in this detective’s head and you could actually see the moment when it all clicked and that was very satisfying. It was a finally! moment and I’m glad it was included in the narrative.
Lost Girls is a great movie. It is a sad movie, and of course it is tragic knowing that this is not fiction and those awful murders did actually take place. I feel this movie conveys some really important messages and while it is a hard watch, it is an educational watch and it is a very important watch. I think Lost Girls is a movie that everyone should see at least once.
Great director, great cast, tragic story but within it are some extremely important and moving messages.
So, this has been Movie Monday. I hope you enjoyed my rundown of Lost Girls. If you have seen this movie, I’d love to know what you think of it, so drop some comments, I love reading them and stay tuned for another great week here on Katelovesliterature.com.