To look at the bigger picture surrounding The Jammed is to witness the story of an inexorable film. Writer/producer/director Dee McLachlan crafted a feature that by any normal standards shouldn’t have been made. With very little in terms of funding, and no one willing to distribute it, it’s a wonder that it got released at all. Since several high profile critics gave rave reviews, however, it seems that it will now get the release it deserves.
Shot on HD, The Jammed definitely doesn’t look too flashy. The cinematography is good, but the sound and editing is often rather poor. Even less impressive is the score, which is blunt and inconsistent. That being said, this production achieves much more in terms of performance.
Veronica Sywak plays Ashley, a woman drawn into the world of sex slavery purely by chance. She has the toughest job playing the ‘everyday’ person, effectively taking the audience’s perspective. Some of Ashley’s scenes jar, but this is because her personal story is a little more pedestrian. She gets lumped with the scant moments of romance and comedy, and they don’t really sit too well with the rest of the film. It is the trio of girls who are forced into prostitution that really steal the show. Emma Lung is extraordinary as ‘Crystal’, but her performance is matched by Saskia Burmeister as the stronger willed Vanya (in a complete transformation from Erica Yurken of Hating Alison Ashley). The group is rounded off by Sun Park as Rubi, who is perhaps the most impressive simply because her performance doesn’t draw attention to itself. The girls’ stories are grim to say the least, and the idea that this could be going on around us (and around the world) is terrifying.
The flaws I mentioned earlier are really due to the lack of money being splashed around. What the film achieves with so little is extraordinary, and the filmmakers wisely opted to put the performances before anything else. Some may have trouble overlooking the technical flaws of the film, but above all it is the honest and uncompromising drive behind telling a story that rarely gets told that makes this film great. That it manages to do it without becoming completely bleak (such as Lilja 4-ever) or merely exploitative is incredible also. The Jammed is a thriller of sorts, and the narrative could have logistically been rather complex. We follow several characters through multiple flashbacks, but none of it ever gets confusing.
Though stylistically erratic, The Jammed is a film that walks a fine line. It manages to be confronting but not dreary, emotionally involving but no-nonsense at the same time.Rating: