Born Into Brothels Reviews
A "super-reviewer" claims it could've been "better made"! What arrogance! I suppose that it won an award and the filmmakers were relative "newbys" means nothing? Why do people review a film and place "pre-set" expectations upon it?
If I weren't open to the potential viewpoint of a filmmaker then I imagine I wouldn't have liked "Before Sunrise" or "Before Sunset" or even "Star Wars"! However, I don't try to limit my experience of a film nor make demands (for the most part) of the filmmakers (aside from prefering that films be unique or at least interesting or sensible).
As far as I am concerned, Hollywood filmmakers largely treat their audiences with disrespect or disdain whereas foreign and Canadian filmmakers do their best when making a film. Make my films Canadian or foreign (rather than Hollywood)!
The film has a great opening shot. It simply shows a lightbulb, surrounded by darkness, with moths being drawn toward this one illuminating light. In that one scene the entire theme for the movie is captured. Throughout the rest of the film you watch some heinous events play out, and yet there is always a sense of hope. It's not necessarily a hope in a tangible thing, but there's always a hope in the fact that there is more to life than what these people are going through. This most explicitly shows itself in the photos that the kids take. The directors gave a handful of the children cameras to take pictures of anything they want. They live in this depraved world, and it would be very easy to simply photograph the dark sides of their lives, but instead they choose to photograph the beauty around them. In any other context these photos would be considered beautiful scenery, but knowing the background to the pictures there's an undertone of tragedy amidst this beauty. It's a very human, and beautiful, metaphor. They may be beaten down and outcast in many ways, but wether its in the comfort of each other, or the longing for a better tomorrow, these people always find a way to keep on trying. That was the theme that hit me the hardest while watching the film; the fact that these people have hardly anything, and yet the continue to hope and continue to find a reason to live everyday. It's a theme and a story which puts our western lives into perspective and creates a paradoxical mix of sorrow and joy.
Another scene, about half way through the film, gives incredible insight into these children's lives. The scene involves a road trip for the children to a nearby beach. This may not seem like a profound place to learn more about these children, but it's one of the most affecting parts of the film. The joy that they get from simply chasing waves on the beach is both heartbreaking and uplifting. It was much more than simply going to the beach for these kids, it was a chance to leave that corrupting society that they live in. Even if it was to a location a mere 30 minutes away, that 30 minutes of distance lifted a very recognizable burden that they live under. The editing is sharp and impacting throughout the entire film, but particularly in this scene. It blends video that presents the excitement in the kids faces and also edits in the pictures that they take. This combination is noticeable because it puts you inside these kids eyes, and allows you to see the happiness they have from a first-person perspective. That's really what this film accomplishes to do from the very beginning. It puts you in the shoes of these children by using the photos and the silent, and more subtle, shots of their lives. You begin understanding these children even though most who will watch this film have never had to deal with the situations these children are in.
It highlights the innocence of childhood, and the contrast of the evil which is in the world, in one of the most threatening environments imaginable. In the end of the film, everything doesn't magically fall into place. There isn't a "happily ever after" type conclusion for all of the children, and yet there is still that hope that is so greatly shown in that opening shot. There is a happy ending for a few of the children, but it doesn't diminish the fact that there still are children left to live in this environment. This creates a documentary that is vivid and personal. The audience is given a taste of what can happen for these kids if they have someone to fight on their behalf. It's a satisfying ending bringing it full circle, and expressing the fact that everyday is a struggle for these people, and yet hope can still prevail.
I progressively watched this movie through four different sittings, which admittedly altered my reception of it. Still, I'm not sure the film is anything remarkable as a whole, but the individual children that make it up are fascinating, inspiring, and heartbreaking.