Seized Up on the Floor, by David Bax
She’s Lost Control is quite a misnomer for Anja Marquardt’s debut film. There’s a complete precision to the cinematography, the editing and the performances that’s technically impressive. But Marquardt’s grip on the film is so tight as to cut off the air supply, making even the idea of losing control feel inconceivable.
Brooke Bloom stars as Ronah, a psychology grad student paying her way through school by working as an unlicensed, off the books sex therapist. That’s not to say that she counsels people on issues of sex but that she has sex with her patients. Therapeutically. We see a number of her sessions but the story’s focus is on her work with one patient, Johnny (Mark Menchaca), who represents her biggest challenge, not least in that he often appears seconds away from a violent outburst.
Sex surrogacy, as practiced by Ronah, has plenty of skeptics out here in the real world but within She’s Lost Control, it passes the authenticity check. This is mostly thanks to Marquardt’s secret weapon, Bloom. The actress plays Ronah’s intelligence as well as the drive that leads her to willingly, repeatedly put herself in dangerous situations. But most of all, she inhabits her compassion. Whether this kind of therapy is effective or not, it’s easy to see how spending an hour with this soulful woman could make a person feel better, even if everyone keeps their clothes on.
After Bloom, Menchaca is the actor with the next largest presence and he acquits himself admirably. He has to show us the volatility that makes us worry for Ronah as well as the wounded and sympathetic man inside that she believes she can help. The cast is rounded out by Dennis Boutsikaris as a sort of academic advisor to Ronah and Laila Robins as a retired surrogate in whom Ronah confides. Both are solid.
It’s in the presentation that Marquardt miscalculates. Her compositions are drained of color and generally remain stationary. Even when the cameras does move there’s an inner stillness brought out by the hushed sound design.
The reason for this cold meticulousness is unclear. Even when we arrive at what should be the emotional climax, there’s a complete lack of catharsis because it’s as if the events are merely being documented by an unconcerned alien race. Everything in She’s Lost Control is carefully thought out but the result is more akin to a director’s reel than a finished film.