Details: (MA15+), 89 mins, Australia, English
Synopsis: When a Chinese mother arrives in Melbourne to find her missing daughter, she enlists the help of Ashley Hudson. Ashley reluctantly agrees to help search, and is soon drawn into the dark underworld of this cultured city as she tries to rescue three girls from a trafficking syndicate. As the story unravels the sinister workings of illegal prostitution and governmental deportation is filled with twists and surprises.
A gritty film with good performances.
The Jammed is shaping up as the little Aussie movie that could. Unable to get government funding, writer-producer-director Dee McLachlan forged ahead anyway to dramatise grim stories of sex slavery in Australia. Distributors weren’t interested in putting The Jammed into cinemas, so the filmmakers paid for a short run on one screen themselves. The response has been so good that their movie is now going into expanded release.
The film is based on true stories and transcripts. It begins with Emma Lung’s Eurasian prostitute Crystal being questioned by immigration officials while Veronica Sywak’s concerned lawyer Ashley tries to prevent her deportation. We flashback to see how Crystal was lured from China to Australia by men who told her she’d make big money as a dancer. Ashley, meanwhile, has been drawn into this seedy world after reluctantly helping a Chinese mother track down her missing daughter Rubi, played by Sun Park. We also see the plight of Saskia Burmeister’s Russian sex slave Vanya.
The structure of The Jammed is a little unwieldy. I think I would’ve preferred to see the story unfold chronologically, which might’ve also allowed for rounder characters. But it’s a thought-provoking drama with some exciting thriller moments.
The performances from the up-and-coming young cast are all good and I especially liked the real-world bewilderment of Veronica Sywak’s heroine.
Writer-director Dee McLachlan doesn’t soft-pedal the material. This is gritty stuff but she also draws the line at rubbing our noses in it too graphically.
The Jammed illuminates the deadly catch 22 these women face – liberation from sex slavery means more degradation in the form of a detention centre and deportation. And it scores points for not serving up neat answers to what is a messy, complex problem.
I’m glad The Jammed has made it against the odds and it rates three stars as a worthy look at a horrific world that’s hidden from most Australians.
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