November 02, 2021
Robyn Lively is fantastic as tough-but-vulnerable Charlie, reeling from the disappearance of her daughter, but the storyline lets her down
Disappearance at Lake Elrod review – powerful performance in missing-girl movie
With this small-town gothic murder mystery director and co-writer Lauren Fash overdoes it with the missing-kid tropes: a grieving mom fighting for the truth; police corruption; buried secrets; a powerful family controlling the town; rusting pickup trucks; mean dudes with mullets. But there is just about enough psychological complexity in the mix in the shape of the central character Charlie, a gay woman winded by the disappearance of her eight-year-old daughter Lily. Charlie marches about town stapling missing posters to lamp-posts in the midst of an emotional breakdown or maybe even a psychotic episode – hallucinating, seeing her daughter in dark corners.
Set in Georgia in the 1990s, the film opens a year after Lily vanishes. Tough but vulnerable Charlie is played beautifully by character Actor Robyn Lively (half-sister of Blake) with a riveting less-is-more stillness. The local sheriff (Stan Houston) is ignoring her. Her partner Angela (Bethany Anne Lind) has walked out; homophobia already put a strain on their relationship. When another local girl disappears, for reasons that remain foggy to me, Charlie is the prime suspect. The latest missing girl is the daughter of a whiskey heir Chip Carmichael (Michael Trucco) – he’s a toxic mix of mommy’s boy and tree-trunk-necked neanderthal.
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