In a film market dominated by superheroes, reboots, and the occasional Rom-Com, it is rare to find a film both original and revealing. Angie: Lost Girls seeks to do just that, a heart-wrenching drama with a touch of thrill, as it presents a social issue rarely spoken about: human trafficking. While murder and robbery pass through our screens without a second thought, human trafficking is a crime deemed too heinous to be narrated. This is a disservice to our culture, for many learn and grapple with difficult concepts through the art of movie-making. The social impact from a film such as Angie: Lost Girls is something to seize onto, and seize this film did.
Orchestrated by JULIA VERDIN’S dynamic directing, Angie: Lost Girls pulls us into the life of Angie Morgan, well played by Jane Widdop. She’s young and sweet, driven by her love for music and the potential of it being something more, no matter how much she plays off her talents. It’s when she meets boyish Mario (Dylan Sprayberry) that her world begins to unfurl, the demure and religious teen now sneaking out at night to meet up with—and kiss—Mario. He is, however, the is the one who ultimately pulls her into the world of human trafficking, bringing her in under the guise that his uncle knows the world of music. From this point on, the horrors of human trafficking never stop. We watch Angie get beat, raped, and thrown onto dirty mattresses to sleep as her skin becomes marred with bruises and her eyes encircled with dark rings. (She later reveals that she would be raped 20-30 times a day, sending a shiver down my spine that remained for the rest of the run time). Her only solace is another girl, Zoe (Lindsey Da Sylveira) who promises to protect Angie despite being prostituted herself.
In just under two hours, the audience is brought into a world most are unfamiliar with: the battered girls, the vicious men, the gang leaders who sell off these children like they are sheep for the slaughter. When Angie finally breaks free, she is a ghost of the girl we first meet: tattered eyes and withdrawn body language, fearful of everyone, including her parents. It is difficult to watch as her shock ravages every part of her life, from being unable to eat dinner to even looking at herself in the mirror.
The traffickers continuously try to pull Angie back into their circle, blackmailing her and threatening to take her sister. This culminates into a breathless final act as Angie meets up with Mario, knowing that one of them will die: her for running away the first time or him for not bringing her back. It is a difficult moment to watch as we know that Angie has gone through so much, yet her love for her family supersedes her need for self-preservation.
Ultimately, this film is one of loss: loss of life, of innocence, of who you truly are. While Angie survives and reveals all to the police, allowing them to save other girls in the process, it is merely a story that only begins rather than ends. In a poignant final moment, Angie looks at a wall in the police station, covered in missing girls’ flyers. While she and others were saved, many remain missing, caught up in the system of trafficking that keeps so many lost and never to be found.
Also staring accomplished actors, Olivia d’Abo, Randal Batinkoff, and Anthony Montgomery, Angie: Lost Girls is a rare topic in filmmaking, often thought of as too dark to land on the big screen. It is a detriment to think this way. This film encourages a conversation that is not often talked about. What Angie goes through in this film is more real than fictional, her narrative echoing the words of children that we will never know. Angie’s story draws you in and never fully lets you go, leaving one with the lingering knowledge that more needs to be done. One can only hope that this film strikes a societal shift in how we talk about human trafficking. With a strong debut feature such as Angie: Lost Girls Julia Verdin is definitely a director to watch.
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