The Girl In The Picture, the endlessly fascinating new documentary on Netflix, exposes the problem with doing reviews of good crime shows: the better the material, and the better put together the documentary, the harder it is to actually mention any of it. When there is nothing to criticise, when the material is so intense, when twists come constantly and when you don’t want to spoil a single moment for your readers, what are you meant to fill a review with?
So, forgive us some vagueness and brevity. As you’ve guessed, if you’ve any interest in true crime, the mysteries of the world, the complex pattern of humanity, then you have to watch The Girl In The Picture. The creators have taken a multi layered, multi year detective puzzle and paced it brilliantly: there’s barely enough time to settle on one set of facts before they are changed, again and again, until finally bedrock is hit and some things finally become clear. Of the major questions, several remain unanswered. I love a good YouTube doc like anyone else, but this is true next level presentation with interviews from most people left alive.
It’s a tragic story of marriage which went wrong, the insertion of a practiced exploiter, the gaps in our society in which people can slip, the strange relationships people can become twisted into creating. Multiple people die, and if you like happy endings best leave this one alone – that’s not really a spoiler, it’s established early on.
If there’s any criticism, it’s when a crime writer turns up and starts dropping hype and words like evil. It was calm and level before him, but he has to be there as he’s key in solving the case and finding the only sprig of joy in the whole two hours.
The Girl In the Picture is the latest in Netflix’s line of can’t miss true crime studies. We can only hope that as the service changes course to try and retain money and relevance it doesn’t cut content like this from being produced.