Crystal is a young Indonesian girl, in Australia illegally as a sex-slave. In an immigration office, about to be deported, she complains about multiple rape and appalling conditions of captivity. But the federal agent with her couldn’t care less – after all, she’ll be one of 67 prostitutes deported in the last few months.... More
Meanwhile, a young Melbourne woman, Ashley Hudson, agrees to help a Chinese woman search for her missing daughter. She soon finds herself in an eye-opening world she never knew existed.
Directed by Dee McLachlan, once known as Duncan McLachan, the male director of The Second Jungle Book: Mowgli & Baloo.Hide
BY Andreas Heinemann Flicks Writer
Ashley is a bored insurance clerk who by chance meets a middle-aged Chinese woman searching for her daughter. What begins as a few small favours for the woman escalates as it is uncovered her daughter is working in an illegal brothel. Meanwhile, illegal Thai immigrant Crystal, who worked alongside the girl Ashley is looking for, is at immigration recounting her own experiences about the sex slave trade. Through these two perspectives, writer/director Dee McLachlan creates a thoughtful and emotional critique of the plight these women find themselves in.
There are no hookers with hearts of gold, no feisty vixens getting by on their looks and charms, only prisoners trapped in an abhorrent lifestyle that destroys any chance for a return to normality. The honest portrayal makes the characters deeply sympathetic and Ashley’s crusade to save them incredibly virtuous. When she meets indifference from others towards her cause or the cold poker faces of immigration officials, you can only resent these individuals who perpetuate the atrocities with their passive avoidance of the problem. These feelings are complicated as the story unfolds and it turns out that these women are now past being helped, and all Ashley’s actions have been in vein. Emotionally and thematically, The Jammed works.
Though, it is not entirely successful. The acting is solid, without featuring a real show stealing performance. Also, there is a tendency for McLachlan to emphasise emotional high points with slow motion effects. These take you out of the story momentarily and labour obvious points. When the visuals stick to the desaturated colours, handheld shots and noir-ish treatment of the Melbourne setting, the tragedy is stronger as it invokes both the realism of documentary and the tension of a thriller.
These are minor quibbles, as The Jammed is the best-intentioned film to be released this year and it seems like it would hold up well on repeat viewings. Probably be the most underrated release of 2008 so far.