- Directed by Skye Borgman
- July 6, 2022 (US)
A young woman’s death opens a decades long mystery on her true identity and the federal fugitive at the center of it all.
To say that the subject matter the documentary Girl in the Picture covers is messed up is quite the understatement. If this were a work of Hollywood fiction it would seem too convoluted and complicated and bizarre to be real yet what they show here is exactly what happened. But also what we get here is poignant, sad and incredibly disheartening.
It’s difficult to put into words the content of the story. There is just so many twists and turns in this story that even the most creative writer would have trouble crafting anything like it. The story starts out simple enough with an apparent hit and run that you know is definitely a murder. As those behind this peel back this woman’s life like the layers of an onion there is just more and more that you cannot believe.
Girl in the Picture started out as background noise for me one evening that was going to keep me company as I wound the day down. It seemed like a pretty standard murder documentary but once they touched upon the victim’s assumed name I became a little more interested. Fake names mean the murder is a bit more complicated so my mind was pulled in a bit more and here we are.
I am avoiding using real names here as both individuals focused upon used/had several names during the course of their lives and part of the story being told here is how we get to who they genuinely are.
The man who starts out as her husband turned out to be your father who turned out actually to be her kidnapper. In Girl in the Picture you’re taken into a world where the central character probably wasn’t even aware of who she really was. She clearly knew her life was not normal but she probably didn’t even know just how abnormal it was.
As I said it’s hard to describe exactly what was all in this but through interviews and news clips they show that this woman from the age of about four until her death was the victim of a very sick man. What he had going for him was the lack of modern technology in my humble opinion. If this occurred today I think the identities he assumed would have been discovered as he and her tried to function in society.
The narrative of this documentary works backwards because there really is no other way to do it. It starts with a discovery of her body along the road and ends nearly 20 years later with her true identity finally learned. It’s a long and twisting road. You can’t help but feel I would say sad but it’s something more than that. Maybe it’s horror. It is just a nightmare scenario that sounds like a work of fiction. This documentary through interviews with those that knew her makes you feel as if a genuine light in this world was snuffed out by her kidnapper for no good reason. He had crafted a twisted family with not only a daughter turned wife but her child turned his.
It’s a portrait of evil unlike any you have encountered. You’ll be shocked and horrified and sadden when you watch this. This is a disturbing and effective true crime documentary. It gives you not only information but pulls you into the story.
Girl in the Picture is quite possibly one of my favorite documentaries. It will hold your attention from start to finish. And when it’s done you’ll be left unsettled because of its subject matter. I cannot recommend this enough but be warned it gets seriously disturbing at points.