Saturday, December 6, 2014

HOLLY (2006)

Directed By: Guy Moshe 
Written By: Guy Moshe & Guy Jacobson 
Cinematography By: Yaron Orbach 
Editor: Isabela Monterio de castro 

Cast: Ron Livingston, Chris Penn, Virgine Ledoyen, Thuy Nguyen, Udo Kier

Shot on location in Cambodia, including many scenes in actual brothels in the notorious red light district of Phnom Penh, HOLLY is a captivating, touching and emotional experience. Patrick, an American card shark and dealer of stolen artifacts, has been 'comfortably numb' in Cambodia for years, when he encounters Holly, a 12-year-old Vietnamese girl, in the K11 red light village. The girl has been sold by her impoverished family and smuggled across the border to work as a prostitute. Holly's virginity makes her a lucrative prize, and when she is sold to a child trafficker, Patrick embarks on a frantic search through both the beautiful and sordid faces of the country, in an attempt to bring her to safety. Harsh, yet poetic, this feature forms part of the 'K-11' Project, dedicated to raising awareness of the epidemic of child trafficking and the sex slavery trade through several film projects. The film's producers endured substantial hardships in order to be able to shoot in Cambodia

While a good film that opens your eyes to a tragedy happening overseas in Thailand, but is really happening all over the world.

It feels like an issue of the week film. While shining a light on the slave ring of young girls but here you are dragged in the middle and the story is made personal by seeing at least one girls plight through the eyes of an American who never wanted o be a savior but ends up making a connection and opening his eyes to care and actually help.

The film's only weakness is that it plays like a tutorial. A after school special with an ambiguous ending.

Ron Livingston stars as a man who has been traveling through Asia. Who meets a young girl who he takes sympathy on and finds out she is a sex worker and he strikes up a friendship and becomes determined to set her free. Later in the film they try to explain why after all these years in the country. He finally decides to take a stand with the girl, but it still seems odd all of a sudden.

While the film enamors Livingston's character with seedy traits. He still comes off as not really a character, but an ideal. He is almost a saint. Seperate form the illegal business he is in.

They also try to make him a anti-hero by having him have a bad past in America. So that he's on the run from something and an obsessive poker player, but those seem to be his only bad traits. Nevertheless this is a story that needs to be told and while the film and subject matter can be disturbing. I give it credit in not exploiting the subject or being graphic in certain scenes. The film tends to be heartbreaking a lot, but I give credit to the filmmakers and cast for making a memorable film that is hard to forget.

This film is also one of actor Chris Penn's last performance and he is good as usual. It is also an impressive debut in a lead for Thuy Nguyen who plays Holly.

Tom Sizemore was originally slated to play Freddie but after being arrested for failing several drug tests, he was dropped from the production and replaced by Chris Penn

It's a story of survival and shows how the trade works as why one stray. What it takes to escape a story of innocence lost. The ends you have to go to.

Grade: B-

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