Gritty and wrenching, Holly is fiction with the heart of an expose. The title character, a pretty adolescent from Vietnam, has been sold into sexual slavery by her impoverished parents and smuggled across the border to Cambodia. Highly prized as a virgin, she’s available for top dollar at a seamy bordello in the notorious K11 red-light village. Her fate appears to be sealed until the unexpected arrival of Patrick (Ron Livingston), an American ex-pat in Phnom Penh whose demons have condemned him to gambling, drinking and bar fighting.
His motorcycle breaks down as he’s passing through K11 to pick up some merchandise for Freddie (the late Chris Penn), a well-connected dealer in stolen historical artifacts. While waiting for a local mechanic to fix his bike, Patrick checks into the hooker hotel—the only accommodations in town, it seems—and befriends smart, spunky, 12-year-old Holly (Thuy Nguyen). Although he’s repulsed by the establishment’s underage carnality, his rage first surfaces upon meeting Claus (the reliably creepy Udo Kier), a German tourist with a penchant for teenagers. Patrick returns to the capital city but resolves to rescue Holly.
The protagonist’s consciousness-raising mirrors the experience of co-writer Guy Jacobson, a New York attorney who was horrified during a 2002 visit to Cambodia and vowed to tell the world about the plight of an estimated 30,000 such kids caught in that country’s living hell. Novice feature director Guy Moshe and his solid cast help him reach for this goal with uncompromising clarity.
Cast: Ron Livingston, Chris Penn, Virginie Ledoyan, Udo Kier and Thuy Nguyen
Director: Guy Moshe
Screenwriters: Guy Moshe and Guy Jacobson
Producers: Guy Jacobson, Adi Ezroni and Nava Levin
Genre: Drama; English-, Khmer- and Vietnamese-language, subtitled
Rating: R for disturbing sexual situations involving children and for language
Running time: 115 min.
Release date: November 9, 2007 ltd.