Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Review: She Has A Name

Yes, I know I am responsible for marketing this film and yes I am breaking my own rule and reviewing at the same time BUT... I need to talk about human trafficking and I need you to get behind me on this one!

Jason, a lawyer, poses as a john to build a legal case against a ruthless pimp who is trafficking girls in Asia. He meets NUMBER 18, a girl forced to work as a prostitute in a busy red light district whose testimony is key to his case. Can he convince her to risk her life to testify for the sake of justice?...

I have never been someone who reviews without heart or soul, my reviews are always passionate because that is the whole entire point to cinema. What on earth is the function of writing anything which might as well be written by a robot. Cinema forces us to engage our emotions and, when it's done well, it changes us. We have to allow this to happen because when we cease to care, to feel we are diminished as people, as humans. 'She Has A Name' is an astounding film that makes me so very angry, actually I am furious that we still have to campaign against the horrific evils of human trafficking in this day and age. So, if you are expecting an impersonal review that is devoid of everything that lifts us as human beings then please move on. Actually, you stay right there because I am talking to you!

Why on earth are we having to campaign for the rights of innocent children to live safely and be just that, children? Why, in this age of increasing connectivity and social awareness do we find ourselves outraged as we witness the many groups highlighting a problem that should have been wiped out decades ago. Well, we are and 'She Has A Name' achieves the gargantuan task of focusing on the issue of human trafficking whilst, at the same time, delivering a clever and expertly written Conspiracy Thriller. 'She Has A Name' was penned by Andrew Kooman for the screen and adapted from his own stage play. Based on real events it shines a spotlight on the shadowy world of the sex trade and the practise of trafficking under aged girls in Asia. Kooman's story was triggered by the media coverage of a broken down Water tanker, which hid the dead bodies of over 50 girls. Some of them were as young as 13 and had been just left to die. Over 100 girls had been transported in one tanker and the global cry of outrage forced World leaders to discuss the unmentionable. Human Trafficking isn't just an issue for the Groups that work tirelessly every day to inform and challenge and neither is it a convenient political point scoring exercise. Put simply, it is your problem, it is my problem and it happens closer to home than you could possibly imagine. 'She Has A Name' follows the investigation that was triggered by the Water Tanker discovery and how a conspiracy of silence was uncovered that led right back to America, to Washington. We all know that politicians can sometimes be accused of having transitory morals and this is especially evident when there is money to be made. Here in the UK we are constantly challenging our Government over policies that only seem to benefit the rich. But what happens when a trade deal is set at odds with the lives of innocent children? What happens when those brokering the deal are complicit in the very crime that is being investigated?

Jason (Giovanni Mocibob) is the Agent who is tasked with gathering evidence to bring down the human traffickers who perpetrated this evil crime. His investigation leads him to 'The Pearl' and the pole dancers who entertain business men day and night. Mocibob is simply outstanding as a man, resolute in bringing down the gang who so callously disregard life and purity. Portraying Jason as a family man, Mocibob's scenes, as he video conferences with his wife (Holly Pilsbury), slams the message of corrupted childhood home to anyone who loves their own children. 'She Has A Name' refuses to let the audience forget the personal nature of this story for one second and it deliberately positions itself to be an uncomfortable experience. I share Jason's disgust when he relays the conversation with perverted Alex (Gil Bellows) and at times 'She Has A Name' pushes you to the point of heartbreak. Bellows demonstrates his considerable acting prowess in a role that is about as far removed from the loveable Billy (Ally McBeal) as you can wish to be. He is the personification of real life business man who 'break' underaged girls whilst abroad because money can buy any experience you wish to indulge in.

Jason's relationship with Number 18 (Teresa Ting) is at the very heart of the film with Ting and Mocibob's onscreen chemistry completely believable. Ting is a fantastic actress who takes her character from a dead eyed prostitute to a young girl with hope with such an assurance she threatens to scene steal from everyone she shares screen time with. The powerful Crime Boss leader who stands between Number 18 and freedom is Akkarat (Will Yun Lee) and it is impossible to take your eyes away from him. Lee embodies a boss who has career aspirations and holds onto his corrupted seat of power with a vice like grip. Eugenia Yuan is equally terrifying as Mama with her lip curling hatred of the Western men that use her girls evident. Her exchanges with Jason are compelling and provide much of the films taught and gritty content. The family team of Daniel, Matthew and Andrew Kooman steers "She Has A Name' through a minefield expertly in that, the film does not veer into titillation (there is no nudity and the sex is implied largely by sound) nor does it feel censored. It would be very easy to move too far away from portraying naked beautiful girls and end up with a film that is effectively PG - 13. There is no glamorising here and the rooms are dirty and the threat of violence as tangible as the corruption that threatens to overwhelm.

I can't remember the last time I watched what I would refer to as a perfect film and 'She Has A Name' does have moments which are not as effective. The earlier scenes where the investigation are first discussed feel a little 'acted' and jar a little but fortunately they don't last very long and the action soon moves on with little or no effect on the overall story. 'She Has A Name' is a beautiful film with cinematography making the most of the stunning scenery of Thailand perfectly set at odds with the gritty cityscape's of Bangkok. Number 18's recollections of her childhood, set against the almost idyllic village backdrop add an extra level to the souless tragedy that has become her life.

'She Has A Name' should make you angry because it conveys a life that is real for hundreds of illegally trafficked girls (and boys) in the world. It is a crime that often goes unpunished and those who perpetrate it do so on a daily basis. Human Trafficking is not a faceless crime and the souls and innocence it steals from the victims can never be given back. The danger of a global illegal problem is that it is easy to push away and depersonalise. A problem that is happening "out there" in other countries, if you think that then you couldn't be more wrong. Human Trafficking is a localised problem that occurs in our country and in your town. We all have a responsibility to not add to the conspiracy of silence that allows this travesty to continue and so 'She Has A Name' becomes more than just an amazingly powerful Independent Film. It shouts a message that must be heard by everyone and so needs YOU to join its makers and supporters.

Please book tickets and go and see 'She Has A Name' at one of the local screenings. If there isn't one near you then you can set up your own fan screening. Number 18 isn't the only girl who has to endure this life and together we can be more educated to the evils of human trafficking here in the UK.

Book your tickets here or click on the 'Create A Screening' link on the same page

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