Monday, August 20, 2007


Clint's Review : The Jammed

Date : August 5, 2007 Posted By : Clint Morris

Veronica Sywak, Emma Lung, Saskia Burmeister, Sun Park, Amanda Ma, Andrew S.Gilbert

There are films that’ll make you cry. There are films that’ll make you laugh. Some that’ll even keep you up at night. “The Jammed” will make you ‘Google’.
Thought-provoking and, at times, alarming, Dee McLachlan’s Melbourne-made drama fixes on a topic rarely delegated newspaper space : human trafficking; and not in South Africa or Eastern Europe but right here in pothole-ridden polluted Melbourne. As you sleep comfortably in your bed tonight, faintly listening to 3AW on the clock radio, somewhere out there some unsuspecting foreigner is being forced into being the good that some scumbag’s going to use for barter.
Australia is a destination country for some women from East Asia and Eastern Europe trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. The majority of trafficking victims were women who traveled to Australia voluntarily to work in both legal and illegal brothels, but were subject to conditions of debt bondage or involuntary servitude. There were several reports of men and women from India, the People's Republic of China, and South Korea migrating to Australia temporarily for work whose labor conditions amounted to slavery, debt bondage, and involuntary servitude. - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2007
Based on a script by McLachlan, “The Jammed” tells the story of an Asian woman who arrives in Melbourne determined to find her missing daughter. With the aid of the reluctant Ashley (Veronica Swyak),the distraught woman discovers her daughter Ruby (Sun Park) has been sold into slavery – and as a consequence, her life won’t be the same. Now that Ruby has been discovered, there’s hope for a couple of other sex slaves, Vanya (Saskia Burmeister) and Crystal (Emma Lung) – or is there?
If it were a Junior cricketer, “The Jammed” wouldn’t be picked in a line-up. It wouldn’t. It’s too small, it’s talents aren’t as showy as the others and it’s seemingly quite keen just to stay as quiet as a POW. Like the cricketer though, it does have the talent and it’s also got a lot more offer than some of the other players do – in this case, a story that’ll have you thinking and talking for days to come – in most cases. Give it a pitch and it’ll bowl you over. It just needs the pitch first.
The film itself may be a little too small in scale to ever compete with the big boys – it feels a little underwhelming in parts (especially the finale – which needed a little more punch) - and doesn’t have the all-encompassing story that many theatre goers might be hankering for, but if it was to do an intentionally small piece about an intriguing subject then McLachlan has succeeded. Merit is sometimes better than moulah, after all.
Performance-wise, everyone is rather brilliant – Lung, Sywak and especially Saskia Burmeister (“Hating Alison Ashley”) who fools the audience with her frighteningly credible performance as the fiery Vanya. It’s a turn the AFI should notice come last quarter.The supporting players (particularly, er, Clint Morris, who plays drunken art gallery patron #5 … snigger) are also rather impressive. From Todd MacDonald to Debra Lawrence and the always fab Kate Atkinson, McLachlan scores points off the bat for casting the fantastic rather than the famous.
Hopefully “The Jammed” won’t be swallowed whole by whatever hugely-marketed blockbuster is released the same week – it should be seen; it deserves to be seen. It’s undoubtedly one of the best Australian films in recent times.
Rating : Reviewer : Clint Morris

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