The Jammed - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Jammed Reviews

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½ November 4, 2015
Dealing with serious subject matter in an Australian production, The Jammed sounded like an intense film needed to be seen as part of my own cultural patriotism.

Like many other films that would follow in recent years, The Jammed is another example of a low-budget Australian film where viewers are expected to overlook everything solely for the sake of the subject matter. The same way Ruben Guthrie (2015) dealt with alcoholism and 52 Tuesdays (2014) dealt with gender transition, The Jammed draws its audiences in by utilizing recent stories of the underground sex trade going on in Melbourne. In that sense it has the best intentions because it means to bring the attention of viewers to a legitimate issue, but it comes with lesser production values than Ruben Guthrie and the sense of artificiality that 52 Tuesdays was definitive for. Patriotic viewers seem consistent in overlooking these themes for the sake of encouraging Australian cinema, but I simply cannot. I did not enjoy The Jammed for a series of reasons. I had no problem with the desire to deal with real issues, but I could not overlook the fact that it all felt so fake.
Clearly a low budget film, the visual style of The Jammed is very simplistic. The visual quality of the camera is slightly rough when it attempts to capture moving frames and the cinematography takes on are pretty basic. The lighting is also rather poor, unintentionally creating a rather grim colour scheme at times and therefore failing to create any sense of artistic work within the narrative. The editing uses a lot of very basic transitions between shots which are most notable during the quick fades between changing frames, reminding viewers that the film is an amateur production on par with the kind of short films made by filmmakers during their early days of exploring Windows Movie Maker. The entire film feels like it was actively done within that editing medium, clearly conveying a need for creativity which the film simply cannot live up to. The story is edited so that there are constant jumps in time keep the narrative fast-moving, failing to give viewers any time to settle into any potential atmosphere. Perhaps this is good in the sense that it distracts viewers from the fact that it is unable to actively build one, but any film that actually wants to be good should respect viewers enough to let them figure things out for themselves without using pacing as a distraction. The Jammed is not one of those films.
It is explained that The Jammed was made intentionally on a low budget strictly because the film needed to be made as a means of bringing public attention to the underground sex trade, but there are more effective ways of doing that than creating a narrative that is jammed with artificiality. But nobody figured that out at any point in production and so instead of being catered towards audience entertainment, the film simply serves as an afterschool special which is schlocky and even plain confusing at times. A well-constructed narrative is yet another thing left out of The Jammed, reinforcing this notion that it thinks it can stand on the legs of subject matter and nothing else. The simple fact is that it cannot because it takes many things to constitute a good film. Aside from the genuine ambition to transcend budgetary limitations and make an actual feature length film which has a serious message, I can't say that I found any of them within The Jammed in its narrative context or in terms of technical qualities.
Even when you can't afford a great camera there are still ways of getting around that with innovative cinematography techniques. The Jammed instead makes an effort to film every seen from a conventional medium-distance shot that seems consistent with being in the centre of the room and nowhere else. This comes into fruition fairly fast as the intro scene in the film depicts a cheaply shot view of Swanston Street and Flinders Street Railway Station as citizens walk past with some of them acknowledging the presence of the camera in a manner less subtle than they seem to have thought. Yet the shot keeps rolling and more people keep doing it, so it takes little time before entire visual experience of The Jammed has been foreshadowed. A high quality camera may require funding, but creativity within cinematography does not. Yet The Jammed has such a low budget that it cannot even afford anyone with an eye for strong imagery.
Another thing which cannot be excused on the basis of budget is the quality of the acting in the film. The script itself already condemns them to poor characters from the beginning, but genuine acting charisma is not something that you need to buy when there are countless actors willing to work for nothing internationally. Instead of going for good actors willing to work for nothing, The Jammed targets actors who instead decide to deliver nothing. Each character is some kind of archetype in one way or another, and the way the story unfold essentially makes viewers play a game of "Where's Wally?" to try and isolate each and every archetype. There are many within the main narrative and the half-assed attempts at subplots, but unfortunately playing a game of "Where's Wally?" seemed to be the only way I could find any sense of entertainment in viewing The Jammed. Even then it was a meandering cry for help to escape desperate boredom at the hands of cheap filmmaking and lacklustre characterization.

So The Jammed has an important message beneath the surface, but the experience of the film is so lacking thanks to its painfully cheap production values, thin script and confusing situations that it left me willing to recommend a story covered by A Current Affair or Today Tonight over this as an alternative which is an absolute first for me.
½ February 6, 2013
A hard hitting Aussie film set in Melbourne dealing with human trafficking and the sex trade. Of course this will slap people across the face, because we all live in our safe little houses and lead our safe little existences day to day, and this film is the polar opposite to us. Emotions aside looking at the film it's engaging and beautifully shot in HD but falls short of amazing. Starting with the story, the strongest parts involved the three girls, the weakest part was the side story of the woman helping to find the daughter. In contrast to the gritty and raw shots of the young girls in their new environment, the other story made the film lose momentum and power. The strength of this film is in the three girls; that is where the action and heart lies and not enough time was spent there. A note on the acting, some good performances though not amazing, accents were touch and go throughout the film. Considering the independent nature of this film this can be overlooked I suppose, although I love to imagine what an amazing film could have been produced had a bigger budget been available, it seems such a waste of a story to not be able to fully develop characters. Unfortunately in Australia at the present time funding is almost non existent. The shots of Melbourne are fantastic, the city is captured in an ambient light whilst highlighting landmarks, particularly Flinders Street in a fresh way I felt. This movie is worth seeing for the gritty and dark scenes in the brothel, for me this made the movie and I wish I could have seen more of this.
May 15, 2012
Acting is terrible (Lung and Sywak in particular), especially the accents. Burmeister isn't much better but somehow comes out seeming like she is. I suppose I am easily swayed by a pretty face. The film itself is typical Australian po-faced melodrama, mistaking seriousness for drama.
½ September 27, 2011
This film was about to fade into oblivion when Australian film critics voiced out and resulted in its widespread distribution. Thank gourd for that. It was made on a shoestring budget with fresh actors. The director and writer Dee Maclachlan did a really good job, bringing to the big screen the often overlooked and denied subject of sexual slavery, right here in cosmopolitan Melbourne. The film sags slightly from distracting subplots and some drawn out scenes but otherwise it's a powerhouse of raw emotion, brutal honesty and all of it based on real events, actual court transcripts and beauftiful mise-en-scene. Thank fuck it didn't fall through the cracks of pussy distributors who were afraid of investing in such a 'controversial' film. Australian National cinema has received a much-needed injection of guts and quality through this seminal work.
½ December 6, 2010
mixed feelings. gotta say i dont really think i would tell someone to watch this whole thing unless theyve been to melbourne which might tip the balance to make it entertaining enough in combo with seeing the locale on film.

good writing/acting but just wasnt hooked in to it enough to feel it was worth the full 90 mins of my time.

would give the director another shot tho if they had something else looking good.
June 24, 2010
Somewhat an expose' of people trafficking in Australia and the way that our detainee laws can stand in the way of justice and human decency. That's admirable, but the drama/thriller narrative at the heart of the film is a tad clumsy. Perhaps less jumping between characters and time frames, especially early-on, would have worked better. Still, if you like gritty dramas you could do far, far worse than this.
April 11, 2010
Difficult to watch just because you know the themes and events portrayed are real and based on real life events and court transcripts. Shocking that a government that claims that they believe in a "fair go" is so blase about locking refugees in detention centres which are bascially jails. And to think that they still haven't gotten rid of the illegal sex trade in their own backyard. In terms of the technical aspects, a bit of a let down. I know it was made with a limited budget and it is a positive thing to bring the subject to the mass consciousness but the low quality is telling. I feel the movie could have been tackled better as a docudrama rather than a straight out drama. The protaganist's own little side plot was distracting to the much bigger and important story the film was trying to portray. The scripting was a little lacklustre; could have been better. Emma Lung put in a commendable performance but the rest of the acting was a little amateurish.
½ February 13, 2010
I have seen this movie and it made my spine tingle...

The acting was very well done, and I feel for those women and their families.
After seen this movie (and the movie 'Taken') there is no doubt that these things are happening the world over.

definitely worth watching
December 15, 2009
Good cast and screenplay; unfortunately like many Aussie movies the script lacks polishing like raw diamonds.
Super Reviewer
July 25, 2009
This seemed a bit like a tv movie, but still very good. Moving and sad, if not entirely convincing. (Mainly because some of it ties up a little too easily).
July 2, 2009
Human Trafficking is a harsh reality that many of us fail to acknowledge. I saw the less fortunate humaness to this fucked up side of Melbourne. This film was raw and slapped me in the face with plenty of emotion. Awesome script & characters. Great film!
May 21, 2009
An amazing & intense look into the dark world of human trafficking. I thought this would be another crappy australian film, but it is by far, the best aussie film i've seen in years. Go hire it!
March 19, 2009
Wow... powerful movie that feels very real. Oustanding job by cast and director.
March 2, 2009
I'm going to be the sour grape in the field and disagree with you Mark. I had high hopes for this when I first saw it a while ago and I was honestly disappointed. I'm a big Emma Lung fan and I just didn't buy her act as the lost Chinese girl. Burmeister was good if not a big exaggerated in her performance. Amanda Ma was wonderfully underplaying it though I feel. The urination scene was a bit unnecessary though.

Camerawork and editing was well executed though. I bought it for $10 from Video Ezy about a year ago and I don't regret it but it wasn't all I was hoping for considering the high praise it received when it first premiered. I do recommend people download it (last I heard the official site was offering it as a free download) for a viewing to support local talent though. It is an enjoyable watch, if not a bit too confronting at times.
March 2, 2009
Fantastic and confronting with interesting structure, cinematography and editing. Kind of throws you - as a viewer - right in there.
½ February 21, 2009
certainly one of the better australian films i've seen. it looks into the horrific and sordid world of human trafficking/sex slave trade. being set in melbourne, it had an even greater impact for a melbournian like me. an effective film to help raise awareness of this important issue. also had some nice haunting music throughout the score.
January 29, 2009
Saskia Burmeister owns this film. And while i still cant really get around the casting of Emma Lung, Saskia was surprisingly solid.
I pretty much hated the side of the story with Sywak's character, i didnt believe it for a minute, and she does some very questionable things. McLachlan shows her skills with the concurrent story concerned with the Brothel.
½ December 29, 2008
An important social issue for sure, but poor direction and editing really let this film down. Its no surprise that the Director was also the editor!! Saskia Burmeister was the standout performance for me while Emma Lung, despite her reputation and pedigree, is not remotely convincing. Understood it was a low budget with no script development and they are to be commended for that but at the same time it could have done with some more work.
December 11, 2008
I think this is an excellent film. Lots of emotion which gives you a glimpse into how it must feel to suddenly find yourself in a foreign country, betrayed by the people you trusted, beaten, raped and forced into prostitution. It certainly wasn't laugh a minute, but more films exactly like this should be made to highlight how people trafficking is a serious problem that isn't going away.
November 29, 2008
kind of interesting but it felt like an extended aussie soap. the subject has so much to delve into but this felt rushed and stereotyped. saskia burmeister really outplayed everyone else.
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