When insurance clerk Ashley Hudson (Veronica Sywak) does a favour for friend picking up a traveler at the airport, she also gives a lift to Sunee (Amanda Ma), who has come from China to look for her missing daughter, Rubi (Sun Park). Ashley is reluctantly drawn into the search for Rubi, who has become a victim of a sex trafficking scheme run by a Melbourne gang, and she is working as a prostitute, along with fellow victims Vanya (Saskia Burmesiter) and Crystal (Emma Lung). As Ashley tries to help Sunee and Rubi, she gets entangled in the exploitative world of trafficking and the heartless bureaucracy that tramples on the victims on the way to deporting them. (Inspired by actual events and court transcripts.)
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
In her new feature, Dee McLachlan gets almost everything right in what is a challenging subject. A slightly bumpy time shift at the beginning is the only distraction to a fine, compelling drama which has something profoundly relevant to say about contemporary Australian society.
Clearly motivated by a desire to shed light on the nasty sex traffickers and the insensitive bureaucracy in equal measure, McLachlan steers a careful course not to demonise either of her targets so as to lessen credibility. One example of how she avoids this is the casting of the ever likeable and talented Andrew S. Gilbert as Glassman, the operator of the illegal brothel. His wife (Alison Whyte) is about to open her own art gallery - these are ordinary middle class people. Behind the doors of the brothel lies a business run on snaring unsuspecting girls from Asia or Eastern Europe, taking away their passports and making them work as prostitutes until a super-inflated debt - usually the result of deals made to buy them from poor families and/or the cost of the airfares - is paid off.
The performances are outstanding, directed with an understanding that credibility is essential to this fact-based story. Emma Lung makes Crystal a feisty yet vulnerable young woman, and maintains a credible Asian accent. Veronica Sywak, vaguely reminiscent at times of a young Shirley MacLean, completely understands her Ashley, and Saskia Burmeister is a revelation as the Russian girl, Vanya. Sun Park as Rubi and Amanda Ma as her mother Sunee are both superb, underplaying their roles to great dramatic effect.
Peter Falk's cinematography is excellent and moody, with an illustrative score that uses female voices for melancholy effect. Indeed, the film's melancholy ending is to be welcomed; audiences for this film are surely adult enough to accept it as valid.
Published August 9, 2007
Email this article
JAMMED, THE: DVD (MA)
CAST: Emma Lung, Veronica Sywak, Saskia Burmeister, Sun Park, Amanda Ma, Andrew S. Gilbert, Alison Whyte, Debra Lawrence, Damien Richardson, Kate Atkinson, Todd MacDonald, Masa Yamaguchi
PRODUCER: Sally Ayre-Smith, Dee McLachlan
DIRECTOR: Dee McLachlan
SCRIPT: Dee McLachlan
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Peter Falk
EDITOR: Anne Carter, Maryjeanne Watt
MUSIC: Grant Innes McLachlan
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Emma Wicks
RUNNING TIME: 89 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: The Picture Tank
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 16, 2007 (Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane)