I'm always skeptical when I hear about movies that are based on true stories. We know how Hollywood likes to play fast and loose with that definition. Often, the movies actually have little in common with the truth. So whenever I watch a movie that is supposedly based on a true story, I often spend more time wondering just how much is real and how much is fiction.
You don't have to worry about that with this film, which depicts the disappearance of a 15-year-old girl, Rachel Barber, who was eventually discovered to have been murdered by 20-year-old Caroline Reid/Caroline Reed Robertson, a former babysiter. The Barber family actually participated with the making of this film. I've read Elizabeth Barber's account of the crime (Perfect Victim, written under her pen name Elizabeth Southall), and the movie hews very closely to her story. Although the murder scene is disturbingly graphic, the film does not come off as some cheap lurid trashploitation film, the way a lot of "true crime" movies do. I felt like the filmmaker (Simone North) really does respect the Barbers and went out of her way to tell their story as best as she could.
This movie is not perfect. I'm not sure how I feel about the movie's structure. I'm not against non-linear storytelling - I enjoyed the movie Elephant by Gus Van Sant - but I don't think North was entirely successful in how she did this. The movie starts off from Mike and Elizabeth's perspective. Then it loops back in time as we switch to Caroline's, then we switch to Rachel's, etc. I just don't think it flowed very well.
The actors are all top-notch, especially Ruth Bradley. She really makes Caroline not come across as a one-note villain.
As for the DVD itself... there are a number of extra features here that people might like. We get a few short deleted scenes, plus a couple of behind-the-scenes clips. I particularly enjoyed the interviews with Guy Pearce and Mirando Otto. (Side observation: Miranda chokes up a few times during her interview when she's talking about the real Rachel. It is strangely touching, maybe because it tells me that this wasn't simply a paycheck for her. She's clearly been affected by the story.) We get to see a number of photos of the real Rachel, as well, along with the rest of the Barber family. It's sobering and really drives home the fact that she was a real person, not simply a character in a movie.