- 01 Jun 10
Negga and Sheils put in extraordinary performances and enough authenticity to compensate for the bum notes
Taiwo (Ruth Negga), has spent her life savings on passage from Africa to Dublin, little knowing that her traffickers have sinister plans for her. She finds an unlikely saviour in Keely (Karl Sheils), a small-time lowlife criminal who shelters the girl and gapes at her with both tenderness and resentment. A conflicted Keely is enough of a gentleman to sleep on the couch and occasionally visit his old granny in the old folks' home, but is not gallant enough to resist enslaving his new friend into the prostitution racket.
Then her original traffickers show up to further complicate the simmering emotional pyrotechnics. Transporting the cool amore of Le Samurai to the mean streets of Dublin is nothing if not audacious, but it’s typical of Ciaran O’Connor’s spiky debut feature. Grasping at big social themes, Trafficked is at its best during its quieter neorealist moments. The film's attempts to ape gangster flick form, however, are rather less successful. The criminal underworld as represented here owe more to the Hooded Claw than any real world equivalents; the glamorous lady pimp belongs in Melrose Place, not a gritty Dublin mob pic, and the less said about the unconvincing lapdancing scenes, the better.
Regardless of its failings as a genre piece, Trafficked has not deserved to languish in distribution purgatory for years on end; the film has been knocking around since 2005 and festival regulars may recall it under its previous title, Capital Letters. Largely, its appeal lies with the two leading players, Ms. Negga and Mr. Sheils who put in extraordinary performances and enough authenticity to compensate for the bum notes.