Best Artiste Contribution - Montreal World Film Festival,
WINNER Best Debut Actor - Polish Film Festival, WINNER Best
Prix Cine Femme - Mons International Festival of Love Films
Director: Franco de Pena
Cast: Anna Cieslak, Arno Frisch, Malgorzata
Buczkowska, Jale Arikan, Elizabeth Bruck
RunTime: 1 hr 37 mins
Released By: The Picturehouse
Official Website: http://www.justynafilm.com/
Opening Day: 1 November 2007
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....
Lilya 4-ever (released
2005 here) told a story about a girl duped into prostitution.
Closer to home, Malaysia's Love Conquers All too tackled with
a similar subject. You'll be forgiven if you might think in
Your Name is Justine, the familiar storyline got re-spun in
a different country, and it's the same old again. However,
the issue being tackled still continues to be a scourge in
modern society so you'd expect that such tales will continue
to be told.
director Franco de Pena weaved a very engaging story in Your
Name is Justine, taking a very troubling and nagging problem
he sees, and personifying it through lead character Mariola
(Anna Ciesiak). Mariola has dreams of leaving Poland with
boyfriend Artur (Rafal Mackowiak) for the good life in Germany,
but little does she
know of the shock and horror that awaits her in a sparsely
decorated room somewhere
in Berlin. That scene of initial realization dawning upon
her, is worth the ticket
for the horror and sympathy you will feel for the character,
one who has been
betrayed by a supposedly loved one.
thought the movie opened quite aptly, with Mariola and friends
opportunity in an abbatoir, where we see how meat is processed
for the end market.
It becomes like a metaphor for the journey that Mariola will
in the flesh trade, very much against her wishes. de Pena
doesn't shirk away from
showing the disgusting violence committed against women, and
skilfully handles the
depiction of it without falling prey to gratuitousness or
exploiting too much with a
more direct approach to showing it all on screen. While the
withdraw from the action of inflicting pain, de Pena instinctively
voyeuristic eye away, and at the same time never diminishes
the hurt you feel for
the character, nor the anger contained within.
credit definitely goes to Anna Ciesiak, who was superb in
her role as a naive girl, both strong and vulnerable at the
same time, with obvious limits to the fight inside her, and
having her sanity challenged severely through the conditions
and threats she had to live with. de Pena demonstrated some
of the tactics used by syndicates to snare their potential
prey, the use of contacts, and the various psychological (coupled
with some physical) games that they play in order to break
a person down into thinking their situation is in deep despair
and devoid of hope. You feel her hurt of deceiving her grandmother,
of shame in being violated, and of her hope to escape her
dire situation slowly slipping away, making you want to reach
out and rescue her.
This is one movie, like Lilya
4-ever, that will more than likely provoke a response
from you. It is extremely focused on its objective in highlighting
the predicament of these unfortunate naive victims, and showing
how cunning and wicked syndicates are in their involvement
trafficking to fuel the vice trade, to satisfy a possibly
insatiable demand out there. With the pimp Niko (Arno Frisch),
you get a glimpse into the shady operations and arrangements
such scum make from beginning to end, involving grooming and
the tutoring of techniques to becoming a pleasure factory
(sorry, couldn't resist that one).
Your Name is Justine has a finite end, the plight of many
more women in similar shoes continue to go on, and hopefully
with more people aware of the situation that these women get
put through, then perhaps a dent in the demand side will cause
a corresponding dip in supply. But this will probably mean
a control on loose libido, as well as not to ignore pleas
for help (like in the movie) just to get some rocks off.
(Powerful drama that echoes the plight of thousands
of exploited women)
Review by Stefan Shih