Sold is an uneven drama about a very important topic. First-time feature director Jeffrey D. Brown’s film tackles a real-life nightmare and infuses his main character’s situation hellish living with urgency. It just unfortunately takes him a while to get there.
The movie opens in Nepal. Brown captures the land with sweeping aerial shots, creating a postcard that has come to life.. The images are set to a bouncy and upbeat score, which ends up being entirely misleading for what is yet to come.
We meet Lakshmi (Niyar Saikia), a young girl who becomes entangled with an all too common injustice. She is ripped away from her family and brought to a brothel in India. Lakshmi is scared and out of her comfort zone and has to face strange men every night or will be beaten for disobeying. She is promised that she will like her new home but Lakshmi is too smart to buy it.
Lakshmi has been immersed in the world of sex trafficking but is desperate to fight her way out. One day, while peering out her bedroom window, Lakshmi is spotted by Sophia (Gillian Anderson). She takes pictures of the young girl, who is weeping behind the bars that go over her window. Sophia knows something isn’t right with this situation and teams up with Sam (David Arquette) to find out what is happening in the building Lakshmi is seemingly trapped in.
Anderson and Arquette are the big names in Sold but never really have much to do. They are given broad roles as the savior figures in the dire realm of trafficking. At one point, Anderson’s character is wearing garb resembling Mother Theresa, which is a bit on the nose. Saikia is the true star of this film and she is nothing short of a marvel. Sold is the only acting credit to her name and there is not a false note to her performance. She is scared and vulnerable, resilient and resourceful. She is a young girl who is not willing to accept her new life, even if it is sadly commonplace.
Lakshmi is only the conduit to a larger problem. Sold focuses just on Lakshmi’s story but fails to represent sex trafficking as an epidemic that plagues India. There is a much bigger and widespread story that could be told, which would have ultimately given the film a greater impact.
Verdict: 3 out of 5
Sold tells an important story but thinly and unevenly. First time actress Niyar Saikia is wonderful as the young Lakshmi, who is trafficked into a brothel in India. Her resilience is the backbone of Sold.