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Out of thousands, he tried to save one.
Holly Poster
6.9/10 by 4 users

Shot on location in Cambodia, including many scenes in actual brothels in the notorious red light district of Phnom Penh, HOLLY is a captivating, touching and emotional experience. Patrick, an American card shark and dealer of stolen artifacts, has been 'comfortably numb' in Cambodia for years, when he encounters Holly, a 12-year-old Vietnamese girl, in the K11 red light village. The girl has been sold by her impoverished family and smuggled across the border to work as a prostitute.

Release Date:August 16, 2006
MPAA Rating:R
Genres:Action, Adventure, Drama, Foreign
Director:Guy Moshe
Casts:, , , ,
Plot Keywords:independent film

Holly Reviews

  • Excellent information on a complex problem, but feels too much like an educational film
    by Chris_Docker on 14 August 2006

    33 out of 47 people found the following review useful:

    A flyer distributed in support of the film reads, "Imagine you've been bought, sold, emotionally abused and raped." Then, in smaller letters underneath: "Now imagine you're a four-year-old.

    Holly is less extreme than its subject matter might suggest, but does manage to shed considerable light on Cambodian / Vietnamese trafficking of children into prostitution. It's a sensitive film, backed by the K11 Project (named after an infamous red light area of Phnom Phen), and aims to raise awareness through a narrative story.

    Patrick is an American dealer of stolen artefacts who is losing money at cards. When his motorbike runs out of fuel, he comes across Holly, a 12yr old girl who has been sold by her parents and is being abducted into slavery and prostitution. Disgusted but powerless to help her, he offers her friendship. When she suddenly disappears, he starts a journey to track her down, without having thought through how he can help, should he find her.

    The film illustrates how girls are threatened with starvation or the kidnap of their siblings if they refuse to cooperate, and ultimately how they learn to solicit quite aggressively to sell themselves. Holly believes her situation is due to bad karma. She is betrayed not only by her parents (whom she forgives - they are near starving themselves), but repeatedly by police who seem little better than criminals with a badge. There is little variation in the film, either in terms of pace or context. We see hardly any of the beauty or wonder of the Far East, as if it is a land inhabited solely by bad people who exploit women; and once we realise that it is a project written and directed by the K11 project, although this adds some confidence in how facts are being presented, it also explains the lack of contrast, dramatic tension or cinematic expertise that could have raised this movie above the 'very worthy' level and get its message across to a wider audience.

    When Patrick finally meets a social worker who tries to talk some sense into him, the cold facts are quite chilling. The idea of paying for her freedom simply fuels the demand, she explains: 30,000 children in prostitution in Cambodia - next year it could be 60,000. We share his heartbreak on realising the scale of the problem. "I'm not trying to save 60,000," he tells her, "I'm trying to save one." The idea of whisking her to safety is quickly put to rest: the US will not let him adopt and, although it takes five minutes to 'save' a child, it takes five years to reintegrate her into society. Although a cliché, the idea of saving just one person does have the added value, however, that it humanises the mass of suffering individuals by allowing us to focus on a single person in a more three-dimensional way, so we do maybe relate to the thousands through Holly.

    Apart from a cameo by Chris Penn (shortly before he died), the acting tends to be anodyne. We see Holly after she has been raped, and are left to conclude her trauma by the presence of a few bruises and a distant expression. Similarly, there is little explanation as to why Patrick, something of a loser, goes to such lengths to befriend and protect a girl he has no connection with (other than portraying Americans as all-good saviours). The performances are adequate however, especially considering Thuy Nguyen (who plays Holly) is only fourteen.

    Holly may make you want to put your hand in your pocket to donate money towards organisations providing half way houses for salvaged youngsters, and even campaign to your local politician, but the film's dramatic weaknesses may reduce its chances of being seen by enough people to make a difference.

  • An Excellent Film That Addresses The Problem of Trafficking
    by dropshop on 18 January 2007

    10 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

    Holly addresses the issue of child sexploitation that is rampant all over the world (some 2 million children are trafficked every year) and does so sensitively and without manipulation--a tall order that the team at Priority Films does with great success. American actor Ron Livington stars in the film alongside newcomer Thuy Nguyen, a Vietnamese actress who plays Holly, and together they bring to screen what is commonplace to the people at the notorious k11 redlight district in Cambodia. Although it tackles a heavy topic, the film holds on to moments of laughter and hope as we get to know the characters up close, keeping the two-hour film from being one that is too difficult to watch. I am glad a film like this is bringing the world's attention to the problem. Child prostitution needs to be stopped and this is a very good first step. It's GREAT and a film EVERYONE must see.

  • I would 'Trade' it in for 'Holly'
    by mos_is on 18 September 2007

    7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

    Child 'Sexploitation' is one of the most serious issues facing our world today and I feared that any film on the topic would jump straight to scenes of an explicitly sexual nature in order to shock and disturb the audience. After having seen both 'Trade' and 'Holly', one film moved me to want to actually see a change in international laws. The other felt like a poor attempt at making me cry for five minutes with emotive music and the odd suicide.

    I do not believe that turning this issue into a Hollywood tear jerker is a useful or necessary strategy to adopt and I must commend the makes of 'Holly' for engaging subtly but powerfully with the terrible conditions these children are sadly forced to endure. 'Trade' wavered between serious and stupid with scenes involving the death of a cat coming after images that represented children being forced to commit some horrendous acts. I found this unengaging and at times offensive to the cause. If I had wanted a cheap laugh I would not have signed up for a film on child trafficking.

    For anyone who would like to watch a powerful film that actually means something I would suggest saving the money on the cinema ticket for the release of 'Holly'.

  • Better as a documentary
    by edinburgh-2 on 22 August 2006

    31 out of 59 people found the following review useful:

    I saw this recently and I must say, I was moved by the factual basis of the story. However, "Holly" as a movie did not quite work. I am however, looking forward to watching the documentary which the producers who organised this project had made because I think that would be a much more compelling work than this film.

    The international cast was composed of B-class actors but their acting was appropriate, and I must give a special mention for the young actress who played Holly. This was her first movie role and she did a very nice job, considering hers is the most challenging part.

    Ron Livingston was adequate but bland as Patrick, the American whose quest is to "save" Holly, but Chris Penn was good in this, his final role. Unfortunately, despite my mostly favourable opinion of Virginie Ledoyen and Udo Kier, both of these actors were very much forgettable and did not do their best work in this film.

    I believe in the film's message and intention, but I have to be fair, so I rate "Holly" 3 stars based on its shortcomings as a movie. But I think the subject matter deserves serious consideration and I am pleased that the people behind this movie have made a documentary as well which I hope will have its debut on BBC and other TV networks.

  • Holly was a fantastic film!!!!
    by Michelle-660 on 12 October 2006

    10 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

    Wow, this film had a huge impact on me, it moved me,. It is an amazing story about a girl in Cambodia who is sold into the sex trade. I can not stop thinking about the fate of the little girl named Holly. The setting of the film is realistic, The film was an eye opener, I can not imagine anyone walking away from it with out wanting to help make a change with this horrifying problem that exsists.

    The content of the film was very very moving. It was one of the best films that I have seen this year. The

    girl who plays Holly does a fantastic job with her character. Ron Livinston gives a fantastic performance. The film moved me to tears, It tells an important message that needs to be heard worldwide. Everyone should go see this film. I think this film will make a difference, I loved it!

  • Looks to Bring Out Awareness
    by pc95 on 15 January 2016

    from San Diego

    Co-written and directed by Guy Moshe, "Holly" is a well done movie aiming to bring awareness to sex trafficking of minors. It is very well filmed and competently acted by the leads. It achieves its goal. There's an air of despair and the score and music reflects this quite well. Having been to Thailand and Cambodia, the poverty is in fact real and eye-opening. Here "Holly" focuses on the greed, depravity, and complicity of so many involved in the story - most especially the women, who seem to head the the problem. As one character remarks, "hell has a place reserved for them already". Indeed law enforcement is heavily portrayed as part of the problem. Livingston's character does not have enough clout to pull things off and the ending is both ominous for the demise of Livingston's character, and yet perhaps hopeful for the girls character. Indeed the credits are prefaced with a statement for awareness of the problem. Recommended 7/10

  • Riveting viewing, Holly has you, if only for a better lead
    by videorama-759-859391 on 19 May 2014

    from adelaide, australia

    Holly is one of those all too painfully real flicks about a child prostitution who's a dime a dozen, a piece of sweet meat, for sicko foreigners, and that includes at shocking turns in the movie, corrupt police figures. Holly is so helpless, you can't help get caught up in her misery with everyone against her. Caught up in his own demons, that has him hiding out, and not wanting to return to the states is Patrick (Livingston) who befriends her. Her savior becomes his personal mission, and when she's taken, cause she's spent too much time around him, he sets off to track her down, visiting seedy bordello after another. Holly is frank and confrontingly real, some scenes so true to life, from reading articles on the subject myself, of five year old kids approaching foreigners for sex. That one early scene, where's Patrick's lured down this lane behind a fence, by a boy where two 5 year old girls proposition him, made it all believable, like banging a nerve. Another scene has a high ranking cop official, cop a bit of the young stuff in a discreet appointment, where he steals Holly's virginity, was just heartbreaking, but this is reality in this cesspool of the Middle East. Too, another scene earlier, shows a heartless made, only too quick to slap her, when she fights her, was another shock point, as being sold to her by another bent pig. The film is beautifully shot, and has you riveted through it's 110 minutes. Holly's fate where trying to get her rehabilitated and out of the life is a revolving door, where for most, once you're in, you're in, beyond savior. Holly and the other older prostitutes are well acted, better than Livingstone, who I just found ordinary in the role. But the movie's plot path is well executed, and never loses it's edge. Holly will grow on you, while being one of the most affecting fictional/child prostitute characters to hit the screen, driven by a naturalistic engaging performance. Again too is that smiling Asian MF as one of the corrupt cops. Matrioshki 2, Elephant White, Trade Of Innocents, and this. Udo Kier adds some spice a kinky, and married foreigner, out to whet his whistle. One of Chris Penn's last flicks, who funnily enough, I first made out for a predator, here.

  • Absolutely stunning
    by Paul Magne Haakonsen on 26 December 2010

    from Denmark

    Alright, this is one of those types of movies that will sinks deep into your psyche and stay with you for a long, long time. Especially because this particular, horrible child abuse is taking place every single day in countries around the world.

    First of all, a sincere admiration to the people behind this movie, for bringing this type of movie into existence, for having the guts to make a movie about this type of taboo, that we all know exists, but no one really talks about. It is a bold movie, but a powerful movie, a movie that hit you right in the face and leaves an impression forever. So, hats off to the people who made this film possible.

    And also to the actors and actresses who starred in the movie, be it lead roles or supporting roles, or even smaller roles that are not really important to the overall story. It is good that some people have the guts and courage to participate in making a movie about this terrible daily happening. And I admire Ron Livingston, Chris Penn and Udo Kier for their performances in "Holly" and for their ability to participate in this type of movie. In particular, I must mention Ron Livingston for his ability to portray such different characters as he have throughout his career, that he can manage this type of variety is just phenomenal. And also Udo Kier in the role of the German guy, giving a fairly good, though stereotypical, portrait of a sex tourist.

    Now, the story told in "Holly" is a story about child prostitution, slavery, human trafficking and more importantly, the story of a man's willingness to make a difference, even if just for a single soul. You should take to heart that the story deals with a very serious matter, and you might be offended by it. But in my eyes, the movie managed to take the matter of child prostitution, slavery, etc. and make it into a good story without being too graphic or without becoming a sleaze-fest.

    I am not familiar with the circumstances of which these events actually take place every day, but it is my belief that the movie portrayed this in a believable manner and I suspect that there has been some intensive research going on prior to starting shooting the movie.

    Now, there isn't a whole lot going on in the movie, yet "Holly" strikes you like a 40-ton freight train. It just has that much impact and levity. This is really a movie that needed be told a long time ago, and I hope that it helps to open the eyes for some people to what is really happening in countries outside our own little, closed worlds of safety and familiar habits. However, what does go on in the movie is straight to the point and very much in your face, leaving you with nothing else to do than take it all in and take it to heart.

    Having seen the movie, I feel that this is a movie that will be staying with me for a long, long time. It has profoundly set some marks in me and opened my eyes up to the world around me. And remember, you might think that your effort might not make a difference, because you are just one person, but take into consideration that you are not the only one thinking so, and together we can make a difference.

    Sorry, didn't mean to go all preachy, but back to the movie. If you haven't already gotten acquainted with the movie "Holly", you definitely need to get around to doing so. Purchase the movie, rent it, borrow it, whatever it takes, just get to it. This is one of those movies that you have to see. I am very grateful that I got acquainted with this movie, and I wasn't even aware of this particular gem, until I found it by sheer random coincidence.

  • A Fine Film
    by waggler on 27 March 2010

    from United States

    "Holly" is an issue-driven film, but it is neither manipulative nor overly sentimental. At its heart is it is a character-driven film, which wouldn't be nearly so successful without the fleshed-out portrayals of Patrick (Ron Livingston), the lost soul with the gradually awakening conscience, and Holly (Thuy Nguyen), the strong-willed but ultimately over-matched young Vietnamese girl. From the vibrant locations and photography to the effective editing, everything is forthright and well-done. The contemporary classical score may put some off at first, but it is top-notch composition and underscores the admirable restraint which is evident throughout. This film, which raises many issues but provides few clear-cut answers, ultimately succeeds in raising awareness of and compassion for Holly and the many who share her plight. Kudos to those who managed to get it made.

  • Holly stayed with me for a couple of days
    by gregg543 on 22 August 2006

    22 out of 44 people found the following review useful:

    Brilliant! My wife and I joined the sprawling line to see Holly at the Edinburgh Film Festival. After seeing the film, I can understand why there was such a long line. Holly is a touching story about an impossible connection between two people. She is a young girl, he is a worn out westerner. The film grasped every bone in our body. There aren't any graphic scenes or anything that is hard to watch - its the surrealism of normality that really kicks you in the gut. The film is beautifully shot. Among others, we loved the scene where Patrick teaches Holly to ride a small motorcycle. Thuy Ngoyen's rawness (cant believe this is her first acting job)and Ron Livingston's performance stayed with me for a couple of days. Highly recommended.

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