‘Love Sonia’ Review

About 270 women and girls go missing in India every day. While prostitution is technically legal, it inevitably co-exists with a massive underground sex trade. According to a recent United Nations estimate, more than 650,000 sex workers live in the subcontinent, but almost twice as many illegal underage prostitutes. These grim statistics form an impressive backdrop to Love Soniathe film director debut of Tabrez Noorani, who has previously worked as a line producer on prestigious international projects including Slumdog Millionaire, The Life of Pi and Zero Dark Thirty.

Love Sonia beautifully shot and expertly acted by a predominantly Indian cast, including co-stars Slumdog Millionaire veteran Freida Pinto. The brief cameos by Demi Moore and Mark Duplass provide a more novel appeal. Noorani’s motives are clearly noble, and he has been involved in anti-trafficking charities for several years. But sadly, good intentions don’t make for a good drama. This preaching film may be valuable as an educational aid to vulnerable young women in India, but to a broader global audience it offers little. never seen in countless previous films about sex trafficking. The commercial outlook will be slim when it hits UK theaters this weekend,

Key point

A worthy but lifeless passion project.

The contemporary plot follows the traumatic journey of Sonia (Mrunal Thakur), an innocent teenage prostitute from a poor farming family in northern India. Pressured by family debts, an authoritarian father, and an evil local baron, Sonia is tricked and forced into prostitution while searching for her beloved sister Preeti (Riya Sisodiya). ) in Mumbai. After months of being arrested, abused and exploited by the mean pimp, Faizal (Manoj Bajpayee), Sonia is packed into a freight container and shipped around the world to service clients in Hong Kong. and Los Angeles. But in a sex party for Hollywood’s elite, she finally finds a chance to break free and regain control of her life, with support from anti-government charities. trafficking.

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Derived from actual events, Love Sonia could have been a gripping thriller with a timely feminist critique. Even a glimpse of Lisbeth Salander’s vengeful fury would be very welcome here. But Noorani makes Sonia’s humdrum fate strangely mundane with her slow direction, flat personality, and timid approach to sexual matters. Thakur has a magnetic face and tries her best with thin material, but the script mostly requires her to radiate angelic innocence throughout her ordeal, a one-note approach. feel stiff and deceitful.

Demi Moore’s presence is another curious footnote to her lackluster blockbuster career, but her former superstar power barely flickers in a few of her brief scenes. Admittedly, there are pleasant psychological nuances in the character of Pinto, a high-class prostitute stuck in a love-hate relationship with Faizal, and in the character of Duplass, who has an external aura. of a good-boy Hollywood libertarian coexisting with complicity. in sexual exploitation.

These side characters have a compelling, morally ambient quality that a more complex film might have explored for more drama. Alas, Noorani constantly falls into heavy stereotypes and obvious emotional cues. Copy music, by Niels Bye Nielsen and Oscar-winning Bollywood composer A.R. Rahman, only reinforces the literalism that creates Love Sonia as a passion project without passion.

Production company: Tamasha Talkies, Womark / Noorani Productions, Love Sonia Films, India Take One Productions, Samraaj Talkies

Actors: Mrunal Thakur, Riya Sisodiya, Freida Pinto, Manoj Bajpayee, Richa Chadha, Anupan Kher, Adil Hussain, Rajkummar Rao, Mark Duplass, Demi Moore

Directed by: Tabrez Noorani

Screenwriters: Ted Caplan, Alkesh Vaja

Producers: David Womark, Tabrez Noorani

Cinematographer: Lucas Bielan

Editor: Martin Singer

Music: Niels Bye Nielsen, AR Rahman

122 minutes

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