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'Lost Girls' Review With Casey

Movie poster for Lost Girls


Lost Girls is a dark murder mystery based on a true story and adapted from the 2013 non-fiction book by Robert Kolker called Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery. This film was released in March 2020 and is currently available through Netflix as part of their original content.




Oscar-nominated actress Amy Ryan (Beautiful Boy, 2018) leads the film playing a stressed working class mom in a small New York town who discovers her young adult daughter abruptly goes missing. The plot starts to thicken with disinterested detectives, internet prostitution, and a determined, belligerent mother who yells and swears her way through everyone in search of her daughter. This search eventually leads to a discovery of numerous female corpses buried in the same Long Island neighborhood with no clues to their killer. 


Lost Girls tries to portray a tone similar to other female-led murder mysteries like The Girl on the Train (2016) or Gone Girl (2014) of murky emotional tragedy. But instead of reaching a climactic boil, Lost Girls simply simmers consistently as the lead detective (Gabriel Byrne, Hereditary, 2018) uncovers new bits of information, and the exasperated weary mother tries to juggle grief with a furious need for answers (and maybe some redemption). While not being awful, Lost Girls ends up just being okay.


The transitions from one scene to another felt rushed or clunky, making it difficult to follow the narrative at times (especially when the narrative jumps forward in time). And while the screenplay includes a lot of feeling (mostly from its starring lady), the feelings are unsteady and sporadic through the film. Oddly enough, Lost Girls reminded me of a similar murder mystery called American Woman, released in June 2019, that I watched earlier this year. With a very similar premise to Lost GirlsAmerican Woman is a stand-out film because it remains emotionally engaging (a.k.a. realistic), avoids rushing any parts of the story, and features a complex tour de force performance from Sienna Miller (The Lost City of Z, 2016). So I guess viewers can skip Lost Girls for a more memorable option in American Woman.