Examination of 7 prisoners – devastating but compelling drama about trafficking | Movies


YesYou’d expect a film about human trafficking and modern slavery to be devastating, and this Brazilian drama rightfully horrifies. But it doesn’t quite move in the direction you might expect, which, strictly from a cinematic perspective, makes it a lot more interesting than your standard social realism. With a Brechtian approach that forces the viewer to question both their own ethical assumptions and their tacit complicity in a global consumerist culture that exploits people everywhere on the planet, 7 Prisoners is a deeply uncomfortable but utterly compelling viewing.

The film reunites director Alexandre Moratto, making his second feature film after Sócrates in 2018 with young actor Christian Malheiros, who played the main role. This time, Malheiros plays Mateus, a young man from the farmlands of the Brazilian hinterland, who accepted a job offer in São Paulo doing menial work, for enough money to make a real difference. difference for the quality of life of his mother and his siblings. back home. But when Mateus and three other young men from the area arrive at the sordid junkyard where they will spend their days scavenging for copper and scrap metal, it quickly becomes clear that they have all been duped. First their passports are confiscated, then absurd amounts for travel and accommodation costs are deducted from their promised wages.

They are soon joined by three more (which makes the seven of the title) and each development is like a Stations of the Cross that men must visit on their journey of suffering at the hands of Luca (Rodrigo Santoro), the overseer who directs the dump. But Luca himself is only a middle manager in a larger exploitation pyramid, a pyramid built on the labor of men like Mateus and his comrades – but also of warehouses full of women working on machines. sewing, some of which are torn off at the factory for sex work. . Of course, Mateus begins to plot with his colleagues on how to escape, but it soon becomes clear that this would only endanger his family back home. His only way out of the compound is to put himself on Luca’s good side and hope that an opportunity will present itself: the ray of hope that slaves have clung to for thousands of years.

Moratto and his cinematographer João Gabriel de Queiroz dance quietly around the performers, letting the actors move the drama forward in an authentic way without being gratuitously violent or intentionally gritty. On the contrary, respect for the complexity and dignity of all his characters is palpable everywhere.

7 Prisoners releases October 22 in theaters and November 1 on Netflix.

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