Movie review of “Sold”: Achingly sad and dismayingly familiar, this fact-based drama tells the contemporary story of a rural Nepal girl who is sold into slavery in India. Rating: 3 stars out of 4.
Achingly sad and dismayingly familiar, “Sold” is the fact-based contemporary story of a rural Nepal child (Niyar Saikia) who is sold into slavery in India, where she works in a prisonlike brothel called Happiness House.
In scenes that echo the 1978 Brooke Shields potboiler, “Pretty Baby,” she is mauled by brutal customers who ask devious questions like, “Have you been thinking of me?” — which inevitably lead to theft or rape or attempted rape.
“Watch out for pretty boys,” says one brothel veteran. “They’ll steal your heart and then your money.”
Movie Review ★★★
‘Sold,’ with Niyar Saikia, Seema Biswas, Gillian Anderson, David Arquette. Directed by Jeffrey D. Brown, from a screenplay by Brown and Joseph Kwang, based on a novel by Patricia McCormick. 97 minutes. Rated PG-13 for disturbing thematic material involving the trafficking of children. Sundance Cinemas (21+).
The film’s producer, Jane Charles, will attend the evening screenings April 15-16.
Eventually there’s an attempted rescue by outsiders, played by cameo-ready Gillian Anderson and David Arquette, who represent Hope House. She dons a nun’s costume to stifle suspicions about her activism; he pretends to be a regular customer in order to send messages.
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Jeffrey D. Brown, the film’s director and co-writer, won an Oscar for his 1985 live-action short, “Molly’s Pilgrim.” He does his best to suggest the lighter side of the subject, especially in a furiously choreographed Bollywood number that captures the heroine’s rare moments of joy. Still, it’s the thoughts of despair and potential suicide that threaten to overwhelm.