As The Film Society Of Lincoln Center’s New Directors/New Films series draws to a close, I saw the drama “She’s Lost Control”, written and directed by Anja Marquardt.
When a professional sex surrogate takes on a client who may be threatening her safety, will she be able to survive as things grow increasingly dangerous between them?
Ronah (Brooke Bloom) is attempting to earn a Masters Degree in Psychology; towards that end, she’s currently working as a sex surrogate in New York City. She maintains a variety of clients who have a wide array of problems; for some of them, the therapy works and for others, it’s more of a challenge. Regardless, Ronah appears able to maintain a professional demeanor throughout and keeps an earnest degree of dedication with all of them, despite the fact that landlords, neighbors and lawyers make surviving in The Big Apple quite difficult.
One day, Ronah is assigned a new client – Johnny (Marc Menchaca), who works in a hospital as a nurse anesthetist. Johnny turns out to be one of the most complex clients Ronah has ever encountered; drinking before (and sometimes during) his therapy sessions, it turns out that his personal life is compromised because of the fact that once his hospital job is finished, he must go home and take care of his sister, who is confined to a wheelchair. Because of all this and his conflicted feelings when it comes to intimacy with women, Johnny finds himself unable to sustain a serious relationship.
After some rather uncomfortable sessions with Johnny, Ronah starts getting mysterious calls on her cell phone. It’s unclear who is calling Ronah, but one thing is for certain: she’s beginning to get concerned about her safety. Due to Johnny’s erratic behavior during their sessions together, she begins to suspect that he is the one who might be behind these telephone calls. However, lacking sufficient evidence, Ronah is unable to confront him about this, although she does discuss Johnny’s sessions with her boss. With Johnny’s behavior becoming more potentially violent, can Ronah escape possible danger during their appointments?
As Ronah, Brooke Bloom does an incredible job; so believable is she in the role of a professional sex surrogate during the scenes of her sessions with clients, you would almost think that you’re watching a documentary. Unfortunately, there’s not much else encouraging to be said about “She’s Lost Control” thereafter. The movie is lacking in direction and focus and winds up being a rather convoluted tale about the frustration of New York City life, “professional intimacy” (as the sex therapy is referred to in the story) and the intertwining of both career and personal survival.
The narrative behind “She’s Lost Control” meanders considerably, causing the picture to feel longer than its hour and a half length. At one point, it starts along this mysterious subplot about Ronah freezing her reproductive eggs for the purpose of having children in the future and this part of the plot gets dropped somewhere along the way and never fully developed. Also, there are some rather unfortunate editing choices, particularly late in its third act which put in the mind of the audience endings to the movie which turn out to be false, thus undercutting its actual conclusion. Whether “She’s Lost Control” is supposed to be a character study or a thriller, I’m not sure but it fails on both counts.
Following the screening, there was an interview with various participants in the production of “She’s Lost Control”, including its writer/director, Anja Marquardt. Marquardt believes Ronah is in control at some point – as evinced by the fact that not only is she successful with most of her clients, but also, due to Ronah’s decision to freeze her eggs. She also mentioned that one of the challenges behind the shoot was that it was filmed during the intense heat of the summer in New York City; for example, the hotel room where Ronah’s sessions occurred lacked adequate air conditioning.