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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Saddest film I have seen in years; powerful topic
It is too bad that this film took years to come to the masses via DVD with such an important topic. The production companies and staff have made a mission to raise awareness on the child sex slave/prostitution that exists in the world, and in this particular case they cover Cambodia/Vietnam rings very graphically.

The story revolves around an American living in...
Published on January 25, 2009 by Steve Kuehl

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unexpected story
The only reason that I ordered this movie was because my favorite actor Udo Kier was in it. The story is fair, but the acting was decent. The story is one that many Americans may not be comfortable with, of human trafficking, but it was well told and the exotic locations were great, made the story come alive.
Published 10 months ago by Laura Limon


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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Saddest film I have seen in years; powerful topic, January 25, 2009
This review is from: Holly (DVD)
It is too bad that this film took years to come to the masses via DVD with such an important topic. The production companies and staff have made a mission to raise awareness on the child sex slave/prostitution that exists in the world, and in this particular case they cover Cambodia/Vietnam rings very graphically.

The story revolves around an American living in Southeast Asia that runs unknown missions for what appears to be a friend/boss, played by Chris Penn. On one of his sojourns he has to spend some extra time in a slum/brothel neighborhood and happens to cross paths with Holly, a 12-year old girl being sold into the sex trade. Through the course of unlikely and uncomfortable events, they form a bond and Ron's character attempts to "save" her. Along the way we see a spattering of harsh visuals involving 5 year old boys and girls soliciting men for sex and landscapes of the impoverished region ebbing out an existence. There is not much depth given to the American/German characters and what they do and why, nor how they keep randomly meeting but I digress.

Udo Kier, Chris Penn and Ron all give standard performances but the obvious importance is about the story. The DVD has one docu associated with the filmmaking, one pertaining to the staff receiving an anti human trafficking award, and one excerpt from the "Children for Sale" docu; all total 20 minutes. I think they could have advertised the film quite differently, as they kept saying this was Ron's "breakout performance", but he had already had several performances much better than this. Chris Penn is credited on the case with his "final role" and it is too bad his 10 minutes on screen here could not have been better, but it was nice to see him these few years later. SPOILERS: The ending is very frustrating and does leave a lesser feeling about the characters you just invested two long hours watching.

A powerful subject with an ok film made by an impassioned crew. It is a tough couple hours to see what happens to these children, so be prepared.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully moving film, February 5, 2009
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This review is from: Holly (DVD)
This movie tells us the sad, compelling, and realistic story of 12 year old Holly, a victim of the sex trade in South East Asia and her friendship with Patrick, an American expat. The acting is excellent on the part of the lead actress, Thuy Nguyen, the locals, and Udo Kier who plays a German sex tourist. The other main characters have average performances. I found Ron Livingston's role to be a bit nebulous as it's rather unclear exactly what his job/criminal activity entails.

A majority of films concerning sex trafficking are documentaries that jump around from scene to scene- which is what makes this film so refreshing as it tells the story of one girl. You can't help but become immersed right from the start. The film shows us how the underage sex trade spans through all levels of society including the absolute corruption of police and government officials, the brothel owners use of drugs and other compliance techniques, and the hopelessness of the victims. I highly recommend watching this timely and relevant film.

For those who enjoy Holly I can recommend the Vietnamese movie "A Little Heart", also about a young girl sold to a brothel and "Children of the Dark"- a Japanese feature about pedophiles in Thailand and the murder of children to steal and sell their body parts to well moneyed westerners.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "I stopped; I looked into her eyes.", June 30, 2009
This review is from: Holly (DVD)
HOLLY, will take you on a 113 minute, harrowing journey, through the streets of Cambodia and into the brothels of Phnom Penh, where much of the filming actually takes place. This film project is a (very) slow-paced, character driven drama, exploring human trafficking and sexual exploitation of children, and, disgustingly, how the Red-Light-District has evolved into a planned vacation stop, for many American and European men, who rationalize their behaviors as being culturally acceptable. It appears that, what happens in Cambodia, stays in Cambodia.

And, indeed, selling children into sexual slavery IS culturally acceptable in Cambodia, becoming almost a right-of-passage for some young girls---a way to help their impoverished family; to stave off hunger. They hold no malice toward those who have profited, only grief of separation. In essence, they have been groomed for this role.

Holly (Thuy Nguyen) meets such a fate, as a 12 year old Vietnamese girl, purchased, and smuggled, over the border into Cambodia. She is beautiful, bright and head-strong. But her free-will is quickly ruled into submission, when threatened that lack of compliance, will result in the purchase of her baby sister. She is willing to accept her plight, to protect her sibling. As a young, virginal girl, she sits in the brothel, while the Madame bides her time, waiting for the highest bidder---one who will pay well for bragging rights of being---the first.

Patrick (Ron Livingston), an American expatriate, has been residing in Cambodia, inking a living gambling and doing some courier work for Bangkok gangster, Freddie (Chris Penn). He is a self-loathing oaf, lacking ambition and comes across as emotionally sterile. His character deftly establishes him as the antihero figure. He appears to have disregard for the Cambodian sex trade, until the day he stops and looks into the eyes of Holly. They develop a friendship and Patrick realizes that rescuing her might put him on the path of personal redemption. They embark on a perilous journey together.

Thuy Nguyen gives the best performance, as Holly. You will connect strongly with her character. Ron Livingston's performance lacks some credibility and is somewhat contrived. He is much too naive to have lived in Cambodia as long as indicated. There also needed to be more back-story to develop his character further---to explain the emptiness he was trying to rectify. Chris Penn gives a credible performance, in this, his last film. And, the character that will fill you with loathing is portrayed by, Udop Kier, the lecherous, European Attorney, who vividly depicts 'the typical vacationer' that keeps the business growing.

This film was produced specifically to bring light to the atrocity of sex trafficking, and, there is a certain amount of stomach-churning realism delivered. However, for me, it played out superficially. It was as though the filmmakers, themselves, couldn't commit to revealing the depth of the horrors surrounding this heart-wrenching business. The message could have been delivered with much more of a galvanizing effect, through a well delivered documentary, instead of this relatively low budget film. However, that said, this film is still deserving of attention, because it will pull at your heartstrings, while filling you with rage.

This film also suffered from inadequate closure. It left me suspended in a deep, hauntingly sad, and powerless void. Although it has been strongly supported by non-profit organizations campaigning against human trafficking, remedies to the problems appear few. Even the children's advocate in the movie appeared defeated. She stated that there are approximately 30,000 children sex slaves in Cambodia, and the numbers are growing---that buying one child out of slavery is not productive---that it just makes one an enabler. So what are the answers? The reality is, that there are thousands of families avoiding starvation by selling one, or more of their children and it is a socially acceptable practice. The poverty is unlikely to end; the exploitation is destined to continue. We are left to silently grieve for the Holly's of Cambodia, as well as all children, throughout the world, facing such abuses.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a good film about a tough subject, May 31, 2009
This review is from: Holly (DVD)
I like that dvd releases make more movies available to the masses. I never heard of this movie but I was glad to have the chance to view it. The film did a very good job of telling a tough story - the trafficking of children. It deals with one specific story of a young girl named Holly. She was sold by her mother and ends up in Cambodia (she is from Vietnam) in a brothel. She runs across an American (Ron Livingston) who is stirred by her plight. He is a compulsive gambler who makes money through black market deals. I think it involves illegal artifacts but it is never made clear. He is all too familiar with the darker side of life but when he is face-to-face with the child market, he is appalled but does what most of us do - he ultimately turns away. He doesn't think he can change anything but his conscience makes him go back. I'll leave the rest alone but I, also, had a problem with the uneven ending. I detracted one star for the ending and some bland acting.

This movie tried to explain the problem as a cultural one. This area is poor and girls' families have sold their children for decades for survival. Girls have been brought up to understand the importance of sacrificing themselves for their families and that this gesture would ensure their next life was a good one. Holly envisions her next life as a princess to help her deal with her fate. These moments were poignant.

I recommend this film for the story that outshines everything else. It tells a compelling tale of one girl's plight.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Poignantly realistic and harrowing, September 19, 2009
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This review is from: Holly (DVD)
I became engrossed in this film very early on- it is slow, but with a poignant, haunting slowness, not an unprofessional lack of pace. The issues it raised stayed with me for quite some time in the forefront of my consciousness ( and my conscience).
Like a number of films about the seedy side of Cambodia, such as 'City of Ghosts' (2002), there are the stock characters- the expats with a past, spending their nights sweating under ceiling fans as they gamble and speak bad Khmer with a gang of criminal looking Cambodians, the cruel "mama-sans" ( I've never actually heard this term used in Cambodia but then I don't frequent places where they might be, so...), the kindly but cynical one who gives timely ( but of course unheeded advice) to the main character about the inherently corrupt society in which they are living; the 'gansters' with the gold jewellry...etc..but it does also present some chillingly realistic lesser known characters too, ones which in contemporary Cambodian society are all too prevalent- the corrupt police who offer sanctuary to children then sell them, the brothel inspectors who demand high bribes once they get wind of a very young girl on the premises, and the children who live off the pickings of the apocalyptic dump sites around the larger towns.
The entire film was shot on location and reinforces, through the setting, the endemic povery and delapidated state of the country, which only adds to its poignant authenticity.
Another film which addresses this topic is 'Monsoon Wife' ( 2001), but Holly is much more engaging, as the narrative and cinematography are effective and the actors do a very commendable job. Having seen Gerald Depardieu as the French expat with his tacky bar in Phnom Penh in 'City of Ghosts', I can say I prefer Chris Penn's understated but entirely convincing role of an American expat, who has a similar size and presence to Depardieu but plays more of an interesting character. Ron Livingstone is very good- he's less surly and more likeable than he was in his role in "Sex and The City", and his comments at the end of the doco on the Special Features on the DVD are extremely pertinent- he poses the challenge of : If we know there's a child molestor living next door, do we have the moral obligation to intervene? Most people would pride themselves on saying yes, I would assume. Well, Livingstone asks,what about if it's happening in another country? Is it any different? It is, as he says, "no different, but it's harder".
He's absolutely right- and because it's harder we should try harder to do what we all can to prevent it.
As for the end of the film, some reviewers have said they found it unsatisfying, but I must say that I found it entirely in keeping with the rest of the film- there's no happy endings in this kind of situation, and Livingstone's kind but dangerously impulsive characte was always going to end up like the ending of the film depicts. As for Holly, we can only imagine( or prefer not to) the rest of her life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Needs to be seen--and addressed, July 5, 2009
By 
RG (Brooklyn, NY United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Holly (DVD)
Holly is a film that needs to be seen, and stories of girls like Holly need to be made known--and addressed. This is not an easy film to watch, but it is extremely impacting and I hope many people will watch it and get involved with organizations that are helping bring change. The language and subject matter are rough--but sadly that's the reality.

The film is about a 12 year old Vietnamese girl who is sold by her impoverished family and forced into prostitution in a Cambodian brothel. She is told that if she tries to escape, kidnappers will take her younger sister. An American living in Cambodia meets Holly when his motorcycle breaks down outside her brothel. Even though he has jaded himself to the trafficking problem for years he develops a concern for Holly and her situation. He explains to a friend that he got used to looking away, ignoring the problem, but in this case he looked in her eyes. His efforts to help Holly are hindered by many all-too-real obstacles.

I highly respect the production team, cast, and crew for putting their lives at risk in order to make this film on site in the trafficking areas of Cambodia. In the DVD extras they allude to the barrage of difficulties they faced. Ron Livingston, who was excellent in Band of Brothers, gives a very good performance here, as does the Cambodian/Vietnamese cast. The film also briefly explores the issue of street children--trying to survive by picking through trash at a dump, and the issue of uncleared mine fields.

In contrast, Slum Dog Millionaire also depicts the terrible conditions of child trafficking and slavery but it has a fantasy storyline and it doesn't encourage the viewer to help bring about change--its purpose is to entertain. I was upset after seeing Slum Dog because I knew that the vast majority of people watching it would laugh, cry, be entertained, and then go on with their day as if the whole child trafficking thing was just an imaginary world. Holly is very different in that respect. The film's primary purpose is to increase awareness of the horrific and very widespread problem of child trafficking, to advocate for change, and to provide opportunities for the audience to participate in that change through grassroots advocacy, etc. On the DVD they encourage viewers to go to a website: RedlightChildren(dot)org.

Two other excellent organizations I have encountered that are working to stop child trafficking by using unique areas of expertise are The International Justice Mission, which consists primarily of lawyers who legally challenge governments to enforce existing laws regarding human trafficking, and Shared Hope International which was started by former U.S. congresswoman Linda Smith who saw the needs firsthand on a trip to South Asia. Shared Hope focuses on advocacy, legislation, recovery homes, etc. Congresswoman Smith wrote an excellent book on how she got involved: From Congress to the Brothel
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars sad, August 17, 2013
By 
Mary C. Calderon "mary" (high desert,california) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Holly (DVD)
great movie besides the way it ends just leaves you wondering what is going to happen, I think the ending could have been much better, VERY SAD trafficking
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie.., January 25, 2010
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This review is from: Holly (Amazon Instant Video)
Not overly complicated..
Not trying to reach..

But very well done.
Very gripping.

See this one...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unexpected story, January 27, 2014
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This review is from: Holly (DVD)
The only reason that I ordered this movie was because my favorite actor Udo Kier was in it. The story is fair, but the acting was decent. The story is one that many Americans may not be comfortable with, of human trafficking, but it was well told and the exotic locations were great, made the story come alive.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed, January 14, 2013
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This review is from: Holly (Amazon Instant Video)
Good movie that will keep your attention. The actors were totally believable and played their roles to perfection. It has a ring of how it really must have been or still is for trafficking in human bodies for the greed of some people.
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Holly
Holly by Livingston (DVD - 2010)
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