Film Review: “Carga” (2018) ★★★★

Money – what can we buy with it? Respect? Friendship? Love? Care? Sure! How about selling something for money? Let’s say – a soul? Dignity? Empathy! Human compassion is another thing that, it seems, is never late to be sold. “Cargo”, written and directed by Bruno Gascon, touches upon the subject matter of human trafficking and all its unfortunate implications. But more importantly, it talks about people who wanted for themselves and for their loved ones a better life, but tragedy and death are what they find instead.

Set in the post-Soviet Era, both Eastern Europe and the rest of Europe go through some difficult times. Each individual tries to provide their families the best they can. Antonio (Vitor Norte) is a family man who works as a truck driver. Viktoriya (Michalina Olszanska) is from a very struggling family. Her grandmother dies leaving her completely alone. Hoping to find a better life for herself, she asks Antonio to help her cross the boundaries so she can look for refuge somewhere else. But instead, she meets a ruthless, cold-blooded murderer and human trafficker Viktor (Dmitry Bogomolov), who picks her up from the designated area soon to turn her into a sex slave.

There is no need for the film to tell whether it was based on true events or not, as it is already dark and as real as it could get. Antonio, by looking at him, we know he wants to stop helping Viktor with his human cargo, however, all that he does is nothing. Alanna (in a dual role by MIchalina Olszanska) helps her brother to prepare poor victims for their gruesome and full of violence journey that will be all about harassment, abuse, and rape. All the men picked up by Viktor, who promised to help them, are always killed shortly after.

It’s not easy to watch Bruno Gascon’s truly powerful “Carga”. As we meet Sveta (Ana Cristina de Oliveira), we know she has no choice but to work for Viktor, who would not hesitate to feed her with a bullet if he wishes so. Viktoria, who also finds herself trapped in Viktor’s brutal world knows that there is nothing much she can do other than fight for her life. But she knows no matter how many attempts she can make, none of them will be enough to save her own life. But, at some point, she knows the time when she must make a decision, ‘all or nothing’, will come and all, of course, will be her first priority in order to achieve her goal.

“Carga” has an interesting way to communicate with the viewers. It knows that by sugar-coating the storyline and beautifying the scenes it won’t bring any awareness. So the director makes a hard decision to push the limits to capture how greedy and heartless humans can be. An interesting fact though, for instance, we know that Antonio has a wife, daughter, and a little granddaughter. However, he never lets the thought of what may happen to those young women after he hands them to Viktor cross his mind. And maybe it did at some point when we find him tormented by the load he carries in his big truck, but those tormented feelings were not enough, let’s say, to force him to pick up the phone and report the human trafficking issue to the police.

In conclusion, “Carga” is another way of uncovering the unjust of the world, the greed of people and their willingness to let others suffer for their own joy. Yes, the women that are sent to work as sex slaves are the ones who get brutally beaten up by the impatient and aggressive customer that cannot wait to use the poor women. However, the men are also victims that never get a chance to see another daylight, as they get killed before the day ends. And, important to mention, is the performance that will blow your mind away. Michalina Olszanska is perfect at portraying two different women that are victims in their own way while “Carga” itself is like a translator of human cruelty explained in an impeccable way.

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