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Featured DVD Review: Tricked

February 15th, 2015

Tricked - Buy from Amazon: DVD

Tricked is a documentary about sex-trafficking. This is a difficult topic to deal with for two reasons. Firstly, it is a depressing topic so it is a challenge to make a movie that doesn't just drive viewers away. Second, because there's sex, it is easy to fall into the trap and become salacious and exploitative. Does the film avoid these pitfalls?

The Movie

The movie features interviews with survivors of sex-trafficking, many of whom talk about how they were "recruited". "Boyfriending in" is a term used for when a pimp pretends to want to be a woman's boyfriend first before coercing them into being a prostitute. Other times, the methods are more direct and violent from the start. We also learn than the median age for a women entering prostitution is 12. These interviews are the most emotionally powerful and the heart of the movie. Other people interviewed range from reporters, cops, prosecutors... all the way down to the johns and the actual pimps.

Tricked is a really good documentary, but it is not without its flaws. On the one hand, it was very interesting to hear survivors speak and many of them had very emotional stories. This was the best part of the movie in my opinion. I also liked hearing from the cops and the prosecutors about how difficult their jobs were. It wasn't surprising to hear juries were not sympathetic to prostitutes, even when the prostitutes were acting as witnesses against their pimps. This could be why cops might not even arrest the pimps. (One of the former prostitutes was arrested more than 50 times, while her pimps, and johns, were never arrested once.) While listening to this, I couldn't help but think Civil Forfeiture would be useful in this situation.

On the down side, the film never really got as deep as I would have liked. The personal stories were the heart of the film, but I would have liked more facts and numbers as well. I would have liked to have seen more proposed solutions to problem. Et cetera. Then again, if the worst thing you can say about a documentary was that it made you want to learn more, it is effective at its job.

The Extras

The DVD has four bonus scenes with a total running time of about 18 minutes. I especially liked the look at the Swedish model, because at this point, it is clear what the United States is doing isn't working, so looking at what others are doing is essential.

The Verdict

Seeing the former prostitutes tell their story helps Tricked have a much more personal touch, but this comes at the expense of not looking at the problem as deeply as I would have liked. Overall, I think it is a good trade-off, as prostitutes are too often looked down upon, when they are very often victims themselves. The DVD has enough extras that it is worth picking up.

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