March 8, 2019 Carga (Movie Review)
Human trafficking is an epidemic that can affect anyone in the world at any point in their lives. Carga, the work of Writer/Director Bruno Gascon (Boy 2014, Emptiness 2015), is a dark realistic peak into the underbelly of a human trafficking organization. Set for release on DVD and VOD on Tuesday, March 12, 2019 through Breaking Glass Pictures, it is a chilling Portuguese Drama that taps into a vile topic, but hits the right points.
Viktoriya (Michalina Olszanska: I, Olga 2016, Mathilde 2017) has had a tragic life. All she wants to do is escape her home country and start anew in a new country with more opportunities. She, like others, have employed truck driver, Antonio (Vitor Norte: In the Shadow of the Vultures 1998, Light Drops 2002), to deliver them safely across the border and into a new life. It is quickly realized that the promise of this new life is not what it seems to be. Antonio delivers Viktoriya and the others directly into the hands of Viktor (Dmitry Bogomolov: Lua Vermelha 2010, Valor da Vida 2019) and his men. Viktor is the ring leader of a deep human trafficking ring. She and the others in the truck are immediately taken, stripped of their IDs and passports, and imprisoned while Viktor and the others groom and sell them to the highest bidder.
Viktor has a variety of people helping him with his organization. His little sister, Alanna (also played by Olszanska) walks around free helping with the girls. Mario (Miguel Borges: Cinzento e Negro 2015, The Dead Queen 2018) and Ian Gard (Duarte Grilo: Boy 2014, Fado 2016) are trusted henchmen. Sveta (Ana Cristina de Oliveira: Taxi 2004, Miami Vice 2006) is a mess of a woman who once, herself, was trafficked and now is used as a puppet training the girls on what is expected of her. As she tells the beautiful Anna (Sara Sampaio: Billions 2017, Love Advent 2017) as she prepares her for her first john, “Do whatever he wants. This is your life now.” All are a part of the organization and are all subject to death by Viktor’s hands if they move incorrectly.
Viktoriya still has fight left in her, even after being brutally raped. She started this journey to find a better life. This was not what she was expecting. Can she find her way out of this evil human trafficking trade before her will to live is taken from her? Or will she sadly fail and become another statistic and never be seen from again?
Carga is a film that explores suffering and feelings of imprisonment. It is a film that is all about the acting and the subject matter. The settings, though beautiful and decayed, are irrelevant. This is a story that could happen anywhere, at any time, to anyone. Viktoriya, like many before (and unfortunately after her) is simply looking to get out of her already bad situation and for a better life. When people feel trapped in their surroundings and are determined to change them, it is easy to fall into the hands of those promising better but are really just trying to further their own agendas. Olszanska is brilliant and heartbreaking in both her roles.
As Viktoriya, she does not say much; but her primal screams of pain and helplessness as she is being mercilessly raped onscreen is gut punching. How she or the actor that played her rapist (Rui Porto Nunes: Olhos nos Olhos 2008, Lua Vermelha 2010) were able to get through the scene with such genuine detail is nothing sort of a miracle. It is a testament of her incredible acting abilities to be able to be so raw and vulnerable while creating such a revolting event. Olszanska is equally impressive as Alanna, the tough sister of the mastermind, Viktor. The viewer will be surprised to learn they are the same actress as she seems to have a chameleon like quality and truly versatile talent to play any part given to her.
Every character at some point in the film has a moment where they struggle with their involvement. It is written on their faces. From Norte’s Antonio’s obvious disdain for the work he has fallen into, to even Bogomolov Viktor when confronted by Alanna about his past. Gascon has a cast that reminds the viewer that yes, these are evil people and evil actions, but somewhere deep down they are human. There is no redemption or excuse for their actions, but this creates a gentle reminder that monsters are humans at their core. Human trafficking is a reality that many ignore, but should not. Carga is the fictional personification as to why every effort should be exhausted to stomp it out in the world and a jarring reminder that yes, this kind of evil does still exist.
Human trafficking is an incredibly difficult subject to attempt to portray in a film. It is a subject that crosses all borders and does not discriminate on race or religion. Women and children all over the world are kidnapped or tricked into this sex slave industry and are often never seen or heard from again. Not to mention the unspeakable horrors they endure. Gascon has taken this touchy subject and created Carga with such definite and realistic strokes that it will make the viewer feel dirty and uncomfortable just watching it play out on screen.
The viewer will have to remind themselves that, while this is a reality to many in this world, the events onscreen are only actors playing a part. Remembering that this is only a slice of what many women and children endure will make it difficult to view successively in one sitting, but it does need to be seen. Gascon and his crew have given the world a film that is so uncomfortable and true to life as possible that the viewer will feel dirty, heartbroken, and angry. That alone is a success.
There is no happiness or joy to be found in this film. Carga is beautifully shot and will cause a negative reaction to any viewer as it should. It touches on one of the many evils in this world and is able to bring awareness through the art of the many skilled actors.
Human trafficking is a serious issue. It is an uncomfortable topic to speak about, but should be in the forefront of minds so that the carnage it creates cannot continue. As the last image onscreen hauntingly reminds, “It could always be you.” For all these reasons, Cryptic Rock gives Carga 4.5 out of 5 stars.