“Yes, you pay me for my time. But you can’t control how I feel.”
Ronah (Brooke Bloom) may be working as a sexual surrogate to help people and complete her masters in behavioral psychology, but it isn’t long into She’s Lost Control to realize the title’s sentiments. It’s as though she has decided to retreat into these strange men—vessels to supply her intimacy both physically and mentally—rather than move forward with her own life into a healthy relationship. We can infer this stems from her childhood, one where her estrangement from brother Andro (Ryan Homchick) and lack of feeling in response to him explaining that their mother ran away shows how little interest she has in opening old wounds where love should reside. Sex satisfies a craving, but she may have as many intimacy issues as her clients.
There’s a real desire to be closed off on her part —something the job uses as a prerequisite since emotional closeness with a patient is the exact opposite result her therapy hopes to achieve. She shuts out her past, ignores present longings by pushing them into the future through hormone injections facilitating the freezing of her eggs, and gives herself fully to whichever gentleman is penciled in for a session that day. Ronah’s very adamant about this, stating plainly whenever things appear shaky that she’s one hundred percent present for the soon-to-be “cured” Christopher (Tobias Segal) and sweetly shy work-in-progress C.T. (Robert Longstreet). They both need her to learn how to open up just as she needs them to help escape the pressures of a true relationship.
It’s an interesting concept, one shown through every aspect of her life from the awkwardness of making friends (Roxanne Day‘s downstairs neighbor Claire) to the table-reversal with boss Dr. Cassidy (Dennis Boutsikaris) who seems keenly aware of Ronah’s true intent. Why else would a rudimentary state-of-the-union to update the doctor on her progress with a new patient (Marc Menchaca‘s Johnny) quickly shift to a clinical look at her own psyche? One could see the film as a sort of warped experiment on his part, utilizing her as an instrument to crack his sexual intimacy-challenged client list while figuring out her own breaking point for clarity. He’d be a horrible psychologist if he didn’t notice her own troubles, so I’d like to believe he pushed her as willfully as she pushed them.
After all, he’s very tentative about assigning Johnny knowing his issues. But the file intrigues and she adds him to her roster. With such a solitary life, you can’t blame her for doing so because it supplies another unavoidable human connection. Besides the short conversations with Andro that she desperately attempts to avoid, the only “real” people in her life are Dr. Cassidy and mentor Irene (Laila Robins), a semi-retired surrogate herself. The job’s literally become her entire existence—the lie being that she embraces this single-track because it will earn a doctorate and subsequently the key to her professional future. The truth, however, is much darker. It’s one where she might subconsciously be trapping herself into a situation without escape—one mirroring the pain of youth.
Does Johnny possibly remind her of her father? The answer doesn’t arrive since there’s no mention of her parents besides the missing mom. All we know for sure is that Johnny presents something her other clients do not. Perhaps it’s looks; maybe it’s his aggression. It’s definitely not a coincidence that Irene’s talk about a tough patient she found herself attaching to had many of the same characteristics—an insight into their trade that may be too manufactured to delve deeper into why they do what they do. Something about Johnny’s difficulty with authority and his temper brings him closer to Ronah as a puzzle worth solving. But her need to open up so he will in turn virtually assures feelings will develop in both directions.
It’s an unfortunate paradox since his main hang-up is figuring out how to be with someone he knows—sleeping with strangers isn’t the problem. This means she must let him know her as more than a tool. The question is whether or not he can touch her after finding a connection, whether trust can be cultivated. And beyond that is whether Ronah can retain objectivity when he does so because her own longing to find that spark isn’t going to be something she can ignore. The fact that her personal life begins to crumble—Mom’s disappearance, Andro’s fear, Claire’s ulterior motives, and a landlord attempting to make her a scapegoat in his own lawsuit—only leads her to covet the comfort and love Johnny is apparently willing to give.
There’s authentic suspense and mystery to her trajectory as small details are revealed through time and her own instability stops being able to stay hidden. Where Anja Marquardt‘s film fails is in the endgame. I don’t mean in the aftermath of Ronah and Johnny’s climax either—I found that was handled nicely with guilt, regret, and pain from both sides (despite an unnecessarily random epilogue encounter). What I couldn’t embrace was the steady introduction of more and more issues to build stronger until they each evaporate at once in a moment of too rapid recognition. Between the aforementioned lawsuit, constant inklings of a stalker, three patients in differing states of composure, and her disintegrating sense of identity—the end is more an easy whimper than profoundly meaningful thesis.
It’s a shame because is fires on all cylinders beforehand, especially with Menchaca and Bloom. The former’s Johnny is a complex hybrid of sensitive compassion and rage-filled anxiety courtesy of an unknown past. His two steps forward, three steps back progress is realistically heartbreaking and his knee-jerk reactions as fierce. As for Bloom, her Ronah is an intensely focused performance towing the line between projected confidence and a vulnerability her eyes can’t mask. She devotes herself to the role and delivers a stirring look at the stakes involved in her field. To remain objective is to remain outside, diagnosing and problem solving without a bond allowing failure to spill into everyday life. As soon as she starts seeing her salvation in his, that chance for happily ever after is destroyed.
courtesy of Visit Films