Early on in Six Years Gone, we are gently installed in a world of safe domesticity. Carrie Dawson (Veronica Jean Trickett) is a divorcee living with her eleven-year-old daughter, Lolly (Anna Griffiths). They live quite typical lives. Lolly, as many girls her age, is mesmerized by her phone. An interest in boys is bubbling up.
Carrie, as a concerned parent, is delicately nosy and clumsily attempts to talk to her daughter about boys. The biggest tension, as far as tensions go, in Carrie’s life is her ex-husband’s new girlfriend. Carrie chafes at the sight of photos of her ex with his girlfriend. Regardless, Carrie stays grounded thanks to a deep connection with her friend Kate (Sophie Dearlove) and a new romantic interest. Carrie’s life, however, is about to fall apart.
Carrie gets Lolly ready for school and sees her off. Later that day, Carrie notices she has not heard from Lolly. Carrie’s mother was supposed to pick up Lolly from school. Carrie’s mother forgets. Carrie calls Lolly. No answer. She calls everyone in Lolly’s circle. No one has seen her. Director Warren Dudley accurately captures a very contemporary panic. It is the panic of knowing that someone is always on their phone, yet not answering for an extended period. Carrie knows something is off. Veronica Jean Trickett’s acting is top-notch. We feel her gut- wrenching anxiety. Sure enough, Lolly is missing.
Six years pass—as the title indicates—and Lolly is still missing. We now see Carrie living with her infirm mother, acting as her caretaker, and dealing with high court enforcement agents demanding that she pay her debts. The rest of Six Years Gone is an agonizing watch. We see Carrie descend into drug use, sex work, and unbearable loneliness—her mother’s slow mental decline does not allow Carrie to depend on her as emotional support. Six Years Gone is a tale of two movies.
The first half works and captures the desperation of losing a daughter to child traffickers. The second half—six years after Lolly’s disappearance—is a steady diet of anguish and bleakness. One understands that Dudley is trying to convey how a singular occurrence in someone’s life—in this case a child’s abduction—can drastically change a life.
Fine, but having Carrie employ two of the creeps that solicit her for sex to track down the child trafficker she suspects nabbed Lolly is a bit too much. There is too much contrast between Carrie pre-abduction and post to the point that the second half of the movie begins to feel a bit too Death Wish-y.
One wonders what is the point of sitting through Six Years Gone to the end. As a showcase of Trickett’s ability as an actor to go down increasingly dark rungs on a downward spiral—mission accomplished. Other than that, one wonders what is the point of sitting through yet another film about child trafficking that leads to nothing more than bleakness for the sake of bleakness.
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