Monday, 4 July 2011

Stolen (BBC One): good cause, not-so-good drama

Here's another Orange review: 

The terrifying statistics about the level of child trafficking around the world that were displayed at the end of Stolen clearly show what an important subject last night's film tackled. However, as emotionally involving as it was, I'm not convinced the drama succeeded in its mission.

You can see the logic in casting a big name like Damian Lewis in there, to attract viewers and make the problem more accessible, but there's always going to be a level of glossy artificiality in the end product that puts a barrier between the viewer and the issue.

The drama itself followed the fates of three children who were trafficked to Britain to work in the black economy: Rosemary (Gloria Oyewumi), a terrified girl from Nigeria who's sold as a house servant; Kim Pak (Huy Pham), a Vietnamese boy trapped in a suburban dope farm; and Georgie (Inokentijs Vitkevics), a Ukrainian lad made to work in a sandwich factory.

We also followed DI Anthony Carter (Lewis) and his sidekick (the criminally underused Vicky McClure) as they tried to break the trafficking rings and free kids like the three above from their captors.

However, the result was a bitty and disjointed drama that gave us a bit of insight into the nightmarish world in which these kids find themselves, but didn't really deliver on the promised “thriller” aspect.

Fortunately, it was held together by astonishingly natural and touching performances from the child actors, especially Gloria Oyewumi and Inokentijs Vitkevics, although the latter's heartbreaking abandonment on the streets was badly undermined by a lurch into sentimentality as he was apparently stabbed at random and died hallucinating that he was with his mother.

This was a classy, cinematic production, but ultimately it felt a little bit too much like fiction to really drive the point home. A well-made documentary on the subject – along the lines of Channel 4's excellent Unreported World strand – could have had more of an impact.

To find out more about human trafficking and the efforts to stop it, visit the Blue Blindfold campaign.

No comments: