9 April 2011 | TBJCSKCNRRQTreviews
If only it wasn't for the flaws...
In Eastern Europe, a group of hopeful, poor women are asked to sign a contract that they will dance in clubs in Belgium(which is where this was produced... note that hooking appears to be illegal there). They are being tricked, however, and find themselves victims of human trafficking. Let me make it absolutely clear that this is a subject that demands attention, and I applaud their intention. I wish I could say the same unreservedly for their execution. Honestly, if they had made this as a documentary, perhaps with, if possible, real testimonies from those who have made it out and are safe(names kept secret if need be), I think this would have been spot-on. Part of the problem is the exploitative use of the girls(who remain naive throughout, disbelieving that they may be forced to prostitute themselves, *even after one of them IS*)... you don't need to constantly show what they are being forced to do merely to establish that it's happening, and the amount and presentation of nudity and sexuality in this is counterproductive. The very intro, with the theme tune of half-heartedly thought out lyrics, is one long display of erotica. Did I mention that it takes up several minutes(who told these people that credits can't run over early scenes?) of the 43 minute running time of all ten(that tend to contribute to the overall events as well as be reasonably separate) episodes(and that's after each one starts with a 3 minute summary of, well, most of the time, only the one immediately preceding it, even showing things that have no impact on what we're about to see)? Do I hear you calling that a nitpick? No, what I mean to point out here is that they did not have enough story(why ten episodes? Several of them could easily have been excised), and the stretching of it is obvious and grating. I fear that the script-writers lack experience, because they make rookie mistakes(other than believing that sequences of people yelling at one another constitute drama, or that audiences will tolerate one anti-climax after another), leaving countless plot(and don't get me started on the holes, it's like Swiss cheese) threads dangling(or have them be cancelled out rendering them useless), introducing characters that make no impact to "keep the pot boiling", and seeking to have *every awful thing that happens(and a few that I am quite certain hardly ever do) to those trapped in this situation happen to this one small group*. We don't know enough about what's going on, including motivations(I cannot overemphasize the importance of that), they make a big deal out of money and passports early on, then they disappear and aren't brought up again, and the utterly untrustworthy(seriously, no one would go along with what Count Dracula and Grinning Psychopath ask them... and why are they always making ridiculous mistakes, how could they have lasted this long if they forget such obvious, basic aspects of their "business"?) keep getting away with doing things in broad daylight? There are too many roles in this, and you find yourself forgetting even names and what little personality they do have. This has some incredibly unrealistic things take place. The dialog tries to be clever, and sometimes really succeeds(this can be pretty funny). With all that said, this does present vital issues at the heart of this problem, such as the corruption, the stigma, the mafia methods utilized by the men in charge, etc. And when this goes for psychological accuracy, it tends to hit the mark. It can really surprise you, and that along with the tension it musters up at times does have you watching closely, a good deal of the way. And not only are the actors actually from the countries their parts are supposed to be, they speak their native tongue when it makes sense(meaning, Lithuanian, Russian, Dutch and English)... and the performances are outstanding. I'm not even sure I could say that anyone didn't live up to the rest. And this is filmed well. I would love to catch something else from some of these immense talents(the only ones that I don't extend that to are the authors). The grittiness of the environment comes across. There is a moderate amount of brutal, disturbing and violent content, as well as a tiny amount of gore, in this. I recommend this to those looking for a manipulative piece on something where we shouldn't need this kind of mini-series to get infuriated and demand action be taken. 7/10