Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Movie Review: The Jammed

As Australians, when we hear about the sex slavery trade, we don’t usually think of it happening in Australia. But Dee McLachlan’s movie, The Jammed, forces us to acknowledge that it goes on here too. The Jammed is set in Melbourne and is based on court transcripts and actual events, making it even more compelling than it would perhaps be otherwise. Ashley (Veronica Sywak) works for an insurance agent in Melbourne. Her recent relationship with Tom (Todd MacDonald) has broken down and her sister, Gabi (Kate Atkinson) has taken on the role of matchmaker. A friend of Gabi’s, Steve (Cameron Nugent) is flying in to Sydney and she asks Ashley to pick him up from the airport hoping she will develop a romantic interest. When she arrives, Steve asks her to give a Chinese woman he has met on the flight, Sunee (Amanda Ma), a ride to her accommodation. After dropping Steve off, Sunee reveals to Ashley that she is looking for her daughter and pleads with Ashley to help her find her. Against her initial instincts, Ashley agrees and is pulled into a web of crime surrounding the sex slavery trade in Melbourne as she tries to track down Rubi (Sun Park). There are certainly some flaws in the film, in particular, the somewhat unconvincing performance of Emma Lung as Crystal - one of the friends of Rubi - who is also a victim of human trafficking. And the director seems divided in focusing on the stories of Rubi and Crystal. But despite its flaws, this is a must-see movie for a number of reasons. There have been a number of dramas on television recently dealing with the sex slave trade overseas. The Jammed is, however, the first to take a serious look at this issue in our own backyard. Dee MacLachlan, who wrote and directed The Jammed after being told by a friend about the human trafficking that goes on in Australia, has chosen the thriller genre to convey the reality of this social evil. This will hopefully increase the potential audience. And The Jammed works well as a thriller. Veronica Sywak shines as Ashley and portrays the inner turmoil of being caught up in the life of a stranger and experiences both wanting to help and wanting to run in the opposite direction. And the three women played by Emma Lung, Saski Burmeister, and Sun Park are all compellingly portrayed. But more than all this it confronts us with a reality that we need to face and deal with as a society. Sex slavery is a real problem involving real people who can sometimes die. The Jammed also briefly portrays issues related to detention and government bureaucracy, both of which have the potential to completely ruin people’s lives by not taking personal circumstances into account. The Jammed is not always easy to watch - particularly the shocking sex scenes that show the way that the women are sexually assaulted and abused by their "owners" and the customers of the illegal brothels they work in. The Jammed is confronting and disturbing but an important movie on an important theme. My Rating: ***** (out of 5) Content Advice disturbing violence and sex scenes AUS: MA Related Links

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