A shocking, twisty-turny documentary
Girl in the Picture is a twisty-turny true crime documentary film. If you’re unaware of this case, strap in and prepare for quite the ride. What begins as a young mother’s mysterious death soon spirals into her son being kidnapped, echoes of physical assault, a bizarre and twisted truth regarding who this woman, Tonya, is, and how her husband Clarence is connected.
Now, I’m not about to spoil what happens here but as I said before, if you don’t know anything about this case, Girl in the Picture is one of those films that’s best going into completely blind to get the most out of this. The story is certainly compelling, and as layers of truth are unveiled, the shocking nature of what’s actually happened soon becomes apparent.
Clocking in at 1 hour 44 minutes, the film is directed by Skye Borgman (who also directed ‘Abducted in Plain Sight’), and is inspired by the 2004 book ‘A Beautiful Child’, written by award-winning investigative journalist, Matt Birkbeck.
The film is pretty grim and there are some shocking details on this case that won’t be for the fainthearted. Stylistically, the movie skips between archival newspaper clippings, talking head interviews and both photos and videos from that time. There’s also brief re-enactments, especially late on when an arrest is made.
These scenes are actually really well done, overlapping that with actual audio footage from the person arrested. (I’m being really careful here not to spoil anything!)
Unlike some of the other films and series of its kind, Girl in the Picture does have a definitive conclusion to its grisly true crime story. There’s no “Unsolved Mysteries” vibe at play; everything is unveiled by the end.
Girl in the Picture has a really good pacing too and the editing is pretty impressive, managing to keep things watchable, with a detailed timeline of the events occurring from the 70’s up to the mid 2000’s.
If you’re looking for a gripping true-crime documentary with plenty of twists and turns, Girl in the Picture is well worth a watch. Although the latter half does slow down a little and lean into more backstory on who this “girl in the picture” actually is, that’s a minor point in what’s otherwise a really gripping story. This one’s well worth a watch.
Feel free to check out more of our movie reviews here!
Verdict - 8/10