Review by Geoff Jenke
Buoyancy is a poignant and brutal drama about human trafficking in Thailand and it needs to be seen despite its dark bleak nature. It is based on a true survival story of one such slave.
We follow a young Cambodian boy, Chakra (Sarm Heng) who is not satisfied with his life on the family rice plot in Cambodia. His father has him working hard and tells him he will “find him a wife”, despite Chakra having eyes for a certain girl. He hears about working “across the border” in Thailand in factories, making good money, so heads off with other boys after “the good life”. However, he becomes captive on a fishing trawler and sees fellow slaves tortured and killed by the owner. Chakra soon realises the only way to freedom is to become as violent as his captors.
The movie is directed (and written) by Australian Rodd Rathjen and is a brutal telling of human slavery in current day Thailand. At anyone time there are up to 200,000 men held as slaves on these fishing vessels with no way out. It has also been estimated that Thailand reaps over $5 billion a year from fishing. The actors speak in their native Thai and Cambodian language (subtitled) but words are few during the movie, with the action of the actors speaking far louder than the words anyway. At times it feels like a reality documentary, one that could never be shown on TV.
With Chakra in full survival mode, the captivity comes to a violent ending, but it is the actual ending of the movie that may move you even more. Is life in his home country of Cambodia much better than he had to endure on the boat?
Buoyancy is a compelling, uncompromising movie that has to be seen. Rathjen based it on stories of real-life survivors and boat workers, both Thai and Cambodian.
One of the best Australian movies in years.
BUOYANCY now showing at Palace Nova Cinema’s.