Faces of Democracy II - Your name is Justine

"Where is love? Where are dreams? Where is the bloody justice?"

These are tough questions, questions which lurk just around the corner but we avoid asking them. Because facing them means questioning the most basic assumptions of our lives and then everything threatens to just fall apart. Not something we can afford to. Right?

But what do you do when life forces you to ask these questions and refuses to answer? This is the point in the life of Mariola when we leave her at the end of the movie. The life has turned a full circle for her, she is back in her familiar surroundings, among friends and well wishers but what has changed is her. She is no longer the little princess who just wanted to be happy. The movie is the story of how that happens, how the psych of a simple polish girl is damaged beyond repair, how the heart is hurt beyond healing. A story that is not unique to Mariola but to thousands of girls all over the world who are pushed into flesh trade by those very hands whom they choose to trust.

The pattern is repeated all very often. A girl embarks on a journey with his lover/boyfriend/well wisher and ends up in flesh trade. But this seemingly one line story contains inside it a frightening journey from that first moment in which the whole world suddenly collapses to the moment when she finally "gives in". That is the journey that is chronicled in "You name is Justine" , Justine being a possible allusion to sade. It records the violence in enough detail to shock you but stops before becoming too gory.

But the main challenge in such an effort is to bring out the psychological violence, the destruction that is happening inside victim's mind. The movie succeeds in that but there is definitely room for improvement. Some scenes really stand out, like when Meriola realized what is happening to her and when she just sits near a small opening in the apartment talking all by herself to the people traveling by train passing underneath. The movie starts in a ham factory showing how a pig is pickup, dazed, killed and converted to ham. This is a very strong allegory to everything that happens in the movie afterwards, that small sequence in the first 2-3 min is played out in its full gory details in next 90 min albeit with human victim this time.

Before the main movie they showed a short film from Poland that was an entry in the short film competition organized along with the film fest and I was really amazed by the quality of cinematography and the wonderful narrative structure in a small 5 min short ! I hope it wins something :-)


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