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Gardens of the Night
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The story follows a young, upper-middle class girl (played incredibly by Ryan Simpkins, who coincidentally blew me away with her brief adult-style performance in Balls Out) as she is lured by a pedophile into an irreversible life of long term abuse and abandonment. The film flashes between her youth and later adult existence on the streets. No part of this topic is easy to watch, but everyone plays their roles adequately. Tom Arnold is absolutely scary as the pedophile, he was completely believable to the extreme.
The video and sound quality were fine, and the supplements cover the array of related topics. The deleted scenes were thankfully cut out (even more graphic), but it did show the obvious confusion towards the end of the film in the writing and editing. Malkovich and Sisto already had abbreviated parts, but as I was watching the end Michelle Rodriguez' part seemed strangely miscut, but then left in the deleted scenes, as were the alternate parent actors' roles. The credit listings supplement to help people learn about this topic were too "edgy" and distracting, it could have been made more straightforward and a great deal clearer.
An important awareness content film, hardly rewatchable, a few faults here and there, but the two performances of the main girl are worthy of acknowledgment.
A young girl gets kidnapped by a man (well played by Tom Arnold) and his buddy who first use her in internet child porn and then for prostitution. This is scary and painful to watch. What makes it tougher to view is the Tom Arnold character. He isn't a nasty, mean, drooling individual. He does seem to care for her at some level, and you get the hint his upbringing wasn't very joyous so he's not so easy to write off. He has also kidnapped a young African American boy for the same purposes and these two kids realize they are all they have and form a bond.
You skip ahead some 10 years or so and the two (Leslie and Frank) are still together. But now the Tom Arnold character and his buddy are gone and the kids are on the streets. They smoke, drink, do drugs and turn tricks. The people they hang with are the same. It's an ugly realization.
Through her trying to get into a shelter, the administrator, played by John Malkovich, finds out who she is and is able to send her home and reunite her with her family. I won't spoil it for you but let's say that Hollywood is no where to be found here.
Again. This is good. The writing, acting, camerawork, sound and music are as good as they need to be to get this done and done well. I don't know if it could have been done any better, but darn. I need hope in my life and you won't find it here.
One cannot watch this movie without emotion. What we do with these emotions - that is what makes a movie like this one necessary.
First of all, this is an incredibly well done, even if disturbing film. As another reviewer wrote, "what you don't see is the most disturbing." Secondly, without ruining the ending, I believe there are few unanswered questions. The film shows you how the protagonists part ways with Alex and Frank, and the final scene hints at what the future holds for Leslie and Donnie. However, any truly unanswered questions might be intentional. The story fast forwards a few years, but what happened during those years is irrelevant after watching the first half of the movie; you know how they lived their lives for so many years leading up to that point.
As another reviewer said, it would be difficult to re-watch, but a powerful story nonetheless. Ryan Simpkins did an amazing job playing young Leslie.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This movie broke my heart. It was so sad but the actors were great actors. I thought the ending was really sad. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Tamara Armour
This is a very hard movie to watch being based on children that were kidnapped by pedophiles and what becomes of them. Read morePublished 7 months ago by bheiser
One of the best movies I've ever seen and I'm not a parent yet but I can say I'll definitely let my kids see to let them know how they are being tricked and what ways criminals are... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Candice Carlisle
I'm not sure what to say. The movie is a well done, eye opening and very depressing story about children kidnapped for porn and prostitution. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Bobbie