Written by Siddharth Kara and directed by Will Wallace, Trafficked takes the dramatic approach to tell a story that could have been done as a documentary. The way it is told here grabs the audience’s attention and doesn’t let go. The film does this in a way that is perfect to pass its message to the most people as possible. The message is about how bad sex trafficking is in the world today and that it can happen in your own backyard without your knowledge. The story is told with a concentration on a girl aging out of the foster care system who is taken away by a seemingly well-meaning government worker who then turns around and sells her to a trafficker along with other girls. She is young and without many resources, so she goes willingly when told she’ll have a job. This of course doesn’t turn out so well for her. The film shows her path along with that of a young woman from Nigeria and a student from India. Once in Texas, it shows the horrors awaiting them without going the exploitative route and keeping some of it off camera. The idea here is to shock people into thinking without over doing things and it works.
The film’s cast here is of utmost importance as the subject is a difficult one to say the least. The cast is filled with many familiar faces lending their names and talents to a good cause here in supporting the three leads played by Kelly Washington, Natasha Mayet, and Jessica Obilom who all give appropriately scared performances as the three main victims the film follows. Each of them evolves differently, showing a few of the ways these kinds of situations can go down for victims. Their performances ground the film and give it reality. They are the viewer’s connection with the story and with the cause. The rest of the cast is also decent to very good with their parts and in giving the realistic look into the world of human trafficking.
The film’s look is clearly of not a major budget or tentpole film, but it looks good. The sets, costumes, etc are all realistic and definitely done to look like this could happen to anyone, which is can. The cinematography by Thomas L. Callaway shows the story in a clear manner, one that does admittedly feel ready for television, but also a choice that will make it easy for just about anyone to watch the film and see clearly what is going on, feel for the characters, and learn from it. The film looks a bit generic, but considering the importance of the subject matter, generic works well and gives the film accessibility.
Trafficked is an important film that tells a story that may be hard to watch but needs to be watched. It takes the viewer along as three women are being put through hell, something that happens way too often in the world and even in first world countries. The film shows that trafficking does not discriminate and it can hit anyone. It shows how it can affect victims and their loved ones as well as many others. The film has recognizable names and faces to bring attention to this, but also as they are talented people who can help bring this subject to light. It’s a rough watch in parts as things are shown and suggested that should shock and appall everyone. It’s a powerful film and should be seen.