There's no messing about in Trafficked, as writer-director Ciaran O'Connor gets straight down to business in setting up his two protagonists. Keely (Shiels) is a boyo who ducks and dives about Dublin streets making some cash by ripping off gullible foreigners. Next on his list is Taiwo (Negga, 'Isolation'), a pretty African who was smuggled into the country by gang boss MacManus (Niall O'Brien) but made her escape before she was pushed into prostitution. Taiwo books into a hostel where she meets Keely, who promises to be her 'guardian angel' by landing her a job as glass collector in friend Tony's (Dunne) club and setting her up in his grandmother's flat. However, Keely wasn't counting on McManus' boys sniffing around... or falling for Taiwo.
Knocking around since 2004 as Capital Letters, there are a few problems with Trafficked that are immediately apparent - because of the obvious lack of budget, the photography suffers as some/most of the interior scenes are poorly lit; since most of the film is shot inside this proves frustrating for the viewer. O'Connor tends to overuse music, which bubbles away under the film and is a slight distraction. As the film scoots along with pace, another problem is raised: set in the gritty underworld of prostitution and human trafficking, Trafficked isn't as dirty, or as grim, or as bleak, as it should be. O'Connor's story touches the all the bases its supposed to but it lacks a certain punch.
Despite all this, Trafficked boasts a decent story as O'Connor shines a light on what is going on in this city - there should be more movies that tackle this subject. Where the plot might be softened, O'Connor fills it with a nice love story and he has two likeable performances in Shiels and Negga, who narrates the film in her letters home. Their relationship is always believable and O'Connor doesn't overdo it with both falling head over heels in love with each other - he keeps the idea that Negga is doing this for her own protection to the fore, while Shiels doesn't come over all sweetness and smiles as his jealousy rears its ugly head. This had potential and O'Connor and his cast deserve another crack of the whip.
Review by Gavin Burke | 09:00 | Thursday 13th May 2010 | Movie Review