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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 ... Written by
Riveting viewing, Holly has you, if only for a better lead
Holly is one of those all too painfully real flicks about a child prostitution who's a dime a dozen, a piece of sweet meat, for sicko foreigners, and that includes at shocking turns in the movie, corrupt police figures. Holly is so helpless, you can't help get caught up in her misery with everyone against her. Caught up in his own demons, that has him hiding out, and not wanting to return to the states is Patrick (Livingston) who befriends her. Her savior becomes his personal mission, and when she's taken, cause she's spent too much time around him, he sets off to track her down, visiting seedy bordello after another. Holly is frank and confrontingly real, some scenes so true to life, from reading articles on the subject myself, of five year old kids approaching foreigners for sex. That one early scene, where's Patrick's lured down this lane behind a fence, by a boy where two 5 year old girls proposition him, made it all believable, like banging a nerve. Another scene has a high ranking cop official, cop a bit of the young stuff in a discreet appointment, where he steals Holly's virginity, was just heartbreaking, but this is reality in this cesspool of the Middle East. Too, another scene earlier, shows a heartless made, only too quick to slap her, when she fights her, was another shock point, as being sold to her by another bent pig. The film is beautifully shot, and has you riveted through it's 110 minutes. Holly's fate where trying to get her rehabilitated and out of the life is a revolving door, where for most, once you're in, you're in, beyond savior. Holly and the other older prostitutes are well acted, better than Livingstone, who I just found ordinary in the role. But the movie's plot path is well executed, and never loses it's edge. Holly will grow on you, while being one of the most affecting fictional/child prostitute characters to hit the screen, driven by a naturalistic engaging performance. Again too is that smiling Asian MF as one of the corrupt cops. Matrioshki 2, Elephant White, Trade Of Innocents, and this. Udo Kier adds some spice a kinky, and married foreigner, out to whet his whistle. One of Chris Penn's last flicks, who funnily enough, I first made out for a predator, here.
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