Top positive review
Difficult Subject, Great Film
Reviewed in the United States on February 1, 2019
There's probably a reason we don't see many hard-hitting films about human trafficking, and here's guessing that the reason comes down to it being a subject matter that's hard for most to derive traditional mainstream entertainment from. Written by Ramon Sloan and directed by R. Simone Brown, "Circumstances" seems to be winding up the tastemakers and gatekeepers, because at it's core, this is a movie about human trafficking. And like other unsavory realities of our time that manage to avoid daily discussion as they continually happen right under our noses (see: endless war), if it's a difficult subject matter with no easy fix, best to keep it out of our sight lines so we can focus on things in life that aren't quite as challenging.
"Circumstances" is difficult at times only because of its brutal human condition-driven subject matter. But in terms of pure storytelling, it engages you early, and then it keeps you around. There are good and bad people in this well-executed movie, and it's tough to watch the choices they make, but at the root cause of this world is the old devil that is poverty. Director Brown does a great job of allowing the story to trace itself back to this age-old truth, but we're not clubbed over the head with it in the form of moralizing sermons or half-baked solutions.
"Circumstances" isn't going to solve the tragic and rampant problem of human trafficking. It's just a great indie film, not a great, frees-standing proposal of a defined solution. Kudos to Brown and Sloan for demonstrating the required ambition to take on a subject so often ignored by news outlets, and for creating a great movie with it.