Review: Kidnap Capital
Director: Felipe Rodriguez
By Rhys Tarling
Kidnap Capital is a harrowing, tense piece of work. Certainly not for the faint of heart, yet they are the kind of people I would recommend this film to. It’s a wholly unpleasant, stomach churning yet necessary film that deals with human trafficking.
I don’t know about you, but it’s hard for me to picture human trafficking in a specific kind of way. Human trafficking is a kind of dehumanising evil that is so outside my relatively safe world. Thank god for grossly specific films like this one.
Cinematically, it’s a treasure. Though it’s only set in a house (the film opens with text that tells us that Phoenix, Arizona is the kidnap capital of the US, with over a thousand houses keeping immigrants locked away on any given day. This film just focuses on one house. Chilling), Kidnap Capital feels a lot bigger thanks to laser focused storytelling and clear motivations for all the characters. The kidnapped, herded like cattle down to the basement by the traffickers, aren’t a monolith – they have differing circumstances, motivations, and conflicting personalities; it adds to the tension because the stakes become more complex than merely trying to escape the basement. But it also goes a long way to humanising what could be just two dimensional, filthy and brutalised brown people who we feel bad for, like we’d feel bad for an abandoned cat. We don’t feel pity for them, exactly, but empathy.
It’s respectful but it makes for better storytelling as well. And it makes the tension that much more unbearable to witness.
Though for the sake of economy, the characters are types – the plucky little underdog who will go through hell for his woman, the damsel, the tough guy with a heart of gold, and the fat cowardly man. But it tricks you into thinking you’re watching a movie movie, if you get my meaning. Which is brilliant because when things don’t go as you’d expect for these type of characters…yeah, it’s even more brutal, especially when you consider the ending.
At first the ending left me unsatisfied because, well, because it is unsatisfying on some superficial level. But upon some reflection I consider it to be a brave choice and true to the world presented here: unfair, indifferent—ours.
You won’t walk away from this feeling better about the world or feel like anything was truly resolved. Because it’s happening right now. And it’s going to keep happening. Essential viewing.
Catch Kidnap Capital at Luna SX on Tuesday 12 July and at Luna Leederville on Sunday 17 July.
For more information visit the Revelation Film Festival Website.