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Genre: Drama
Starring: Anna Cieslak, Arno Frisch, Malgorzata Buczkowska, Jale Arikan, Elizabeth Bruck
Director: Franco de Pena
Rating: M18 (Some Sexual Scenes)
Year Made: 2005







Languages: Polish
Subtitles: English/Chinese
Aspect Ratio: 16x9 Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0
Running Time: 1 hr 37 mins
Region Code: PAL 3
Distributor: Origin Entertainment
Official Website:




Mariola dreams about a better life. She wants to leave the small provincial town where she lives. Her boyfriend Artur invites her for a short vacation to Germany to introduce her to his parents. On their way they spend the night at Artur's friends in Berlin. When his pals show up, they hand him the money. It turns out that Mariola has just been sold to be a prostitute.


This Polish film is about human trafficking, and you won’t expect anything joyful or merry about it. A large number of these people are women, and many of them end up in brothels, selling their bodies for survival. Although this takes place mostly in other parts of the world, this is one sad facet of life we can’t shun away from. This 97 minute is a dramatized account of one such story. In fact, this feature is so cheerless, it’ll make you see the world in a different light – a darker and shadier tone, that is.

Director Franco De Pena pens this film with Chris Burdza and Tomasz Kepski about a young woman who was living happily with her grandmother in Poland. She gets to know a boy who promises to bring her to Europe to work there. When they cross Germany, the poor girl is sold as a prostitute and the film follows her painful experience as she fights to free herself from human slavery. Her repeated attempts to get help shape her personality and her increasing determination to go home to her grandmother. What culminates is a stark finale that may leave some viewers teary eyed.

What grabs your attention initially is the angry and intense performance by Anna Cieslak, who plays the victim Mariola (she is forced to be called Justine when she becomes a prostitute). Her portrayal of an unfortunate human mistreated cruelly is almost agonizing to watch. Her desperation and fear is potent and commanding, earning her the award for Best Debut Actor at 2005’s Polish Film Festival at home. Giving convincing performances are her co stars Arno Frisch and Rafal Mackowiak as the people she meets on her ill fated journey.

Powerful performances aside, this film makes you think about the ugliness of human nature and how the state of things are much worse outside our comfortable country. Sure, you may have seen many such sob stories depicted on screen before, but you also have to admit that they affect you every time. A film like that does not need fancy camera work to tell its story. It does not need gimmicky editing effects to make you feel rejuvenated. All it needs is a truthful and grounded tale that is actually happening in the world, and the fact that the affected party could be you, makes you feel for the doomed lives of these unfortunate souls.


This Code 3 disc contains no special features.


The visual transfer is a little grainy, but that suits the grittiness of the film. It is presented in its original Polish Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track.



Review by John Li


. Your Name Is Justine (Movie Review)

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This review is made possible with the kind support from Origin Entertainment


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