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
I saw this recently and I must say, I was moved by the factual basis of the story. However, "Holly" as a movie did not quite work. I am however, looking forward to watching the documentary which the producers who organised this project had made because I think that would be a much more compelling work than this film.
The international cast was composed of B-class actors but their acting was appropriate, and I must give a special mention for the young actress who played Holly. This was her first movie role and she did a very nice job, considering hers is the most challenging part.
Ron Livingston was adequate but bland as Patrick, the American whose quest is to "save" Holly, but Chris Penn was good in this, his final role. Unfortunately, despite my mostly favourable opinion of Virginie Ledoyen and Udo Kier, both of these actors were very much forgettable and did not do their best work in this film.
I believe in the film's message and intention, but I have to be fair, so I rate "Holly" 3 stars based on its shortcomings as a movie. But I think the subject matter deserves serious consideration and I am pleased that the people behind this movie have made a documentary as well which I hope will have its debut on BBC and other TV networks.
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