By Antonio Dileo
Abduction of Eden promises to disturb and make you aware of the horrors of trafficking.
Very rarely does a movie come out that, along with having poignant, stellar performances and fabulous cinematography, can disturb, shake you to the core, and make you aware of a problem that befalls hundreds of thousands of victims each year. Abduction of Eden promises to do all of the above.
Abduction of Eden (originally released theatrically as Eden), directed by Seattle-based filmmaker Megan Griffiths, is based on the story of Chong Kim, who was kidnapped in the mid-‘90s by a man posing as a love interest. She found herself trapped for two years in sex trafficking before regaining her freedom. Kim wrote her own account with the help of screenwriter Richard B. Phillips, who discovered her story in a small-town newspaper article.
The story introduces us to a young girl, Eden (Jamie Chung), who just graduated from high school and is eager to get out into the world. She finds herself one night, an eighteen-year-old working in her parent’s store, being knocked out cold. She ends up in the trunk of a car, the start of a horrific life that she never could’ve imagined. Living in a cold storage warehouse outside of Las Vegas with other young women and underage girls, she is forced into the sex trade by an organized crime ring led by Sheriff Bob Gault (Beau Bridges). Bridges pulls off the two-faced and sinister aspects of the character quite well. As a means for survival, Eden bargains with one of her captors to help them run their operations.
Griffiths, whose recent release Lucky Them starring Toni Collette) premiered at the 2013 Toronto Film Festival, puts a flesh-and-blood face on human trafficking, showing the trauma and destruction it wreaks on its victims. The dialogue (Griffiths also co-wrote the screenplay with Phillips) is spot-on for each character. The character development shows great depth, notably the symbiotic relationship between Eden and a sadistic captor named Vaughan (Matt O’Leary).
Jamie Chung, who rose to fame in the early 2000s on MTV’s The Real World and later went on to co-star in feature films (including Sucker Punch and The Hangover Part II and III), puts so much into the portrayal of Eden that this film most definitely should be considered her breakthrough role. It proves her abilities as a dramatic actress.
For the visual aspects, cinematographer Sean Porter’s camerawork captures the imagery of the horror and trauma dead-on. The musical score by Jeramy Koepping and Joshua Morrison is evocative and adds to the telling of (combined with the story, dialogue, acting, and visuals) an emotionally exhausting story. It’s an important story that needs to be told in light of what is a growing problem not only in the U.S., but worldwide.
There are very few movies in our lives that tell a story that hits viewers on various intellectual and emotional levels, drawing one’s attention to a cause and gets you thinking. Abduction of Eden promises to do that. But make sure that you are prepared to handle it beforehand. It will change you.
Photos: Phase 4 Films