Ronah (Brooke Bloom) is a sexual surrogate in New York City, tasked with helping clients/patients establish intimacy with another human. In some cases, it’s about bringing someone back from a closed-off brink, teaching them how to connect. For others, it’s about giving them an insight into relationships they’ve been severely lacking. Sometimes there is sex, but that is not the main point of the interaction.
As Ronah works with her patients, she exhibits a strange loneliness in her private life. Her own attempts to connect with those around her succeed initially, but fall short in the long run. She’s distant with her brother, who is caring for their mother alone, and seems to exist in a personal bubble in opposition to her own teachings.
Her life begins to get even more complicated when a new patient, Johnny (Marc Menchaca), turns out to be an overwhelming challenge. None of her techniques seem to get to him, and often if they do, he shuts them down right after. His complexities only intrigue her more, however, and she pushes forward, even as her private life starts to grow increasingly more stressful (due to some issues with her apartment). Clearly off her game, she nevertheless continues work, where it is getting increasingly hard to separate her clients’ needs with her own.
Much like the character at its center, She’s Lost Control is interested in building intimacy over the course of this film we’ll call a “session.” For that reason, the pacing is slow, though not tedious. It’s about establishing the humanity of everyone on screen in a way that rewards that engagement (and, likewise, creates a vulnerability in the audience).
But that also means that this film can be a challenge for those that like their films a little peppier. Again, it’s not a laborious crawl, but it requires a level of attention that not everyone will be interested, or able, to give. I was fine with it, but I do think it’s going to be a select group that really appreciates this film for all its layers; many will simply tune out.
A film like this relies heavily on the performance, and often subtle non-performance, of its many characters, and this one does not disappoint in that regard. Bloom’s Ronah is flawed, and one could even view her as a little hypocritical as she helps others when she can’t even help herself (unless you see her therapy as equally self-serving, as you eventually do). But it’s a slow boil, one that fits the closed-off nature of many a patient.
If Ronah is the controlled slow boil, then Menchaca’s Johnny is also sharing the pot, and often the one to explode over the side. The problem here is the transference between the two; by sharing the same pot, Ronah can’t help but be caught in the explosion but, likewise, Johnny’s boil will often be more sedate.
Overall, I enjoyed the film, even if, at times, it felt like watching an accident in extremely slow motion. You just want to hop in and help everyone before it’s too late, but there are characters in the film capable of serving that purpose (and, arguably, characters beyond help). However, even for those with the tools to build intimacy, and teach it, it’s what is not said that winds up being the most important part of the narrative, and not everyone is attuned to deciphering the silence.