Director-cowriter Megan Griffiths refuses to sensationalise the tabloid aspects of this harrowing true story about human trafficking within the USA. As she follows the central character into a nightmare of forced prostitution, the film could have easily exploited the sexual situations. Instead, she takes a matter-of-fact approach that's deeply unsettling. The filmmaking may sometimes feel a little simplistic, but it raises issues in ways we never expect.
The true story begins in 1994 New Mexico, where 18-year-old Hyun Jae (Chung) goes on a date with a seemingly nice guy (Mechlowicz) and is suddenly sold into black-market slavery. She's renamed Eden and forced to work as a prostitute alongside much younger girls. Living in a series of warehouses overseen by crooked cop Bob (Bridges), Eden continually tries to escape and is met with brutal punishment as a result. Finally, she decides that her only hope is to get close to their pimp Vaughan (O'Leary), a young veteran with a drug-addiction problem. But as she gets to know him, she realises that he's trapped as well.
The film explores much more complex aspects of the captive-captor relationship, as Eden becomes increasingly close to Vaughan, helping him with his work and even ratting out some of the other girls who break the rules. Of course, there's an event that snaps Eden back to attention, leading to the necessary confrontation. But all the way through, filmmaker Griffiths focuses on the psychological and emotional side of the story, leaving much of the actual violence and sexual abuse off-screen. Just a bit more detail, and a clearer sense of the chain of events, might have made the film's gut-punch much stronger.
Continue reading: Eden Review
Scott Mechlowicz plays Dan (which, sure; if an actor is playing you, you definitely want it to be the guy who is a dead ringer for Brad Pitt, only 20 years younger), a hotshot gymnast at Berkeley who is unhappy, despite being a star athlete with great grades and an endless stream of eager co-eds. One middle-of-the-night, Dan happens upon a full-service gas station manned by the gruff-voiced, mysterious Socrates (Nick Nolte), a man who speaks only in platitudes and riddles and seems capable of the impossible.
Continue reading: Peaceful Warrior Review
Starring a bunch of nobodies, leavened with a few clever star cameos, and written and directed by guys you've never heard of, Eurotrip wastes no time with the setup and getting its young stars to Europe. Upon graduating from high school, Scotty (Scott Mechlowicz) gets dumped by his girlfriend (Smallville's Kristen Kreuk), who then makes out with the lead singer of the band playing at the graduation party (an oddly-placed Matt Damon, lip-synching a song called "Scotty Doesn't Know"). Simultaneously, Scotty discovers that his German e-mail pen pal, whom he thought was a guy, is actually an extremely hot blonde. Unfortunately, drunk and despondent, he has just told her to stop writing (thinking it was a guy coming on to him). Spiritually devastated, Scotty decides to head across the Atlantic with his friends - requisite crazy guy Cooper (Jacob Pitts), nerd Jamie (Travis Wester), and Jamie's tomboy sister (Michelle Trachtenberg) - to seek the Aryan beauty of his dreams.
Continue reading: Eurotrip Review
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