Culture / Film

‘Girl in the Picture’ paints a disturbing portrait of decades-long abuse

girl in the picture

Netflix is flooded with true crime documentaries. A bank of anguish and suffering, that if it weren't for the filmmakers, wouldn't see the light of day. Whatever you think of the genre, the streaming platform has just added Skye Borgman's latest investigation to its lineup, and it's unlike anything else we've seen. The film is called Girl in the Picture, and below we're bringing you everything you should know.

What is Girl in the Picture about?

It begins with a photograph. The image is innocuous enough. To outsiders it looks just like any ordinary family picture of a father sitting with his daughter on his lap. But with context, the picture and the child's expression sets the tone for a disturbing web of decades-long abuse, sexual violence and ultimately, murder.

Girl in the Picture follows the investigation that ensued after a 20-year-old woman is found dead by the side of the road. At first authorities believe it's a simple hit-and-run case but her wounds say otherwise. Her significantly older husband Clarence is under suspicion and their two-year-old son Michael is placed into foster care. The woman is identified as Tonya Hughes, but when her mother is called she explains that the real Tonya died twenty years earlier as a toddler. From this point the documentary descends into a real life horror. Clarence turns out to be Franklin Floyd and Tonya is thought to be a highschooler called Sharon Marshall, who without giving too much away, was kidnapped by Franklin as a child.

Borgman sensitively follows the investigation, centring the life of Tonya above all, while involving Franklin into the story only when it calls for it. Although at times it does slip into the perfect victim rhetoric, with constant reminders of Tonya's beauty, as if that's why she didn't deserve to be entangled in this disturbing story.

Where can I watch it?

Girl in the Picture has just landed on Netflix, meaning you don't have to wait to watch the documentary.

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