Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB. USA, 2018. Mental Pictures, EON Productions, Gamechanger Films, XS Media. Screenplay by Christina Choe. Cinematography by Zoe White. Produced by Michelle Cameron, Amy Lo, Andrea Riseborough. Music by Peter Raeburn. Production Design by Charlotte Royer. Costume Design by Tere Duncan. Film Editing by David Gutnik. Independent Spirit Awards 2018.
Andrea Riseborough gives a committed performance as a thoroughly unappealing character in this independent misfire. She plays a lonely woman who works as a temp to make ends meet, her only regular companion the unpleasant, ailing mother she takes care of (played by Ann Dowd). At work she tells tall tales about exotic vacations, with men she makes up stories of pregnancies and then, one night on television, stumbles upon a remarkable opportunity for a magnificent hoax. An unhappy couple (Steve Buscemi, J. Smith-Cameron) are marking the anniversary of their daughter’s disappearance thirty years earlier, and Riseborough notices her resemblance to the child in the photo. Having convinced herself that she is the missing girl, she goes to visit the couple and announces herself as their long lost daughter, which Buscemi treats with healthy skepticism while Smith-Cameron (who is excellent) dives in wholeheartedly. The scenes between the main three characters are terrific, particularly thanks to some sturdy acting, but the film ends well before it investigates the psychology of its main character and her inability to communicate with others without telling lies. Evidence of a low budget (like Riseborough’s terrible wig) would be more forgivable if the film went a little further.