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Her Halcyon Phase
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film review: Eden (2012) 
24th-Nov-2013 02:11 pm

Eden is a film that is loosely based on a true story of a Korean American woman, Chong Kim, who was abducted and trafficked for sex. By keeping her wits about her, Hyun Jae, renamed Eden by her captors, manages to navigate her way through the organization that has imprisoned her.

I have mixed feelings about Eden. I really wanted to like this film. It has a female director, an Asian female lead, good reviews. Jamie Chung delivered a strong performance and the film avoided potential pitfalls: lurid representations of sex slavery, the trope of a helpless woman being rescued by men, etc. I also liked that it focused on US citizens in the sex trafficking industry (both as perpetrators and victims), rather than immigrants.

However, at the end of the day, I think Eden presents serious problems. The film has a touch of the "misery-porn genre" (apologies for the use of the word porn) to it and I think its departure from the reality it is based upon does a great disservice to the story. Without writing any spoilers, I cannot provide examples, but many of the realities of Chong Kim's life were glossed over or completely changed, to the effect that instead of providing any kind of meaningful representation of sex trafficking, Eden presents a kind of fear-inducing fantasy about sex trafficking. An unrealistic story you might tell a gullible teenager to illustrate why they shouldn't talk to strangers or such like.

The verdict: one's time would probably be better spent on non-fictional resources about sex trafficking.
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