Carga is a Portuguese movie written and directed by Bruno Gascon (“Emptiness [Short]”, “Boy [Short]”) about a human trafficking network and its web of darkness.
Carga is gritty, and in places hard to watch, but for all that it’s also rather slow and plodding. Human trafficking is never going to be a light subject but it’s one without borders and Gascon tries hard to make you feel like this could be you, your family or your neighbour.
Carga certainly pulls no punches and the casual, extreme violence and mental domination throughout the film only serves to highlight the depth of the characters depravity.
Gascon has done well though to not only have a cast of truly despicable characters, there are also kind hearted ones and one’s stuck somewhere in between.
Whilst the movie has plenty of shocking moments it doesn’t feel over-sensationalised but this still isn’t going to be a film for everyone.
Other directors would surely have used every opportunity available to show their female cast in a state of undress but Gascon has been a little more delicate and uses suggestion more than visuals to portray the horror of certain situations. One particular scene, possibly the most horrific in the whole film, is most shocking because of the intensity of the acting rather than what’s shown in detail.
The acting is tremendous throughout, Vítor Norte (“Ruth”, “Filha da Lei (TV)”) (António) plays his part as the morally tortured truck driver with conviction but it’s Viktoriya, played by Michalina Olszanska (“Clash Of Futures (TV)”, “Mathilde”), who really shines.
Olszanska’s character faces a cycle of almost unending suffering from beginning to end and she does well to portray the emotions believably. Whilst Viktoriya’s dialogue may not be the most voluminous in the movie it’s largely what she doesn’t say that expresses who she is and showcases Olszanska’s acting ability.
There are one or two slight plot flaws and incredibly unlikely coincidences which occur over the course of the film but the most confusing part, and one that really lets the film down, is where Gascon switches narrative from Viktoriya to Anna, Sara Sampaio (“The Clapper”, “Billions (TV)”), who hasn’t been previously introduced, so that unless you’re paying very close attention you maybe given to thinking you’re watching the same character. (Yes, both actresses look different in reality but under poor lighting, heavy bruising and unfortunate circumstance the difference isn’t immediately obvious, especially when their names are never used).
The ending feels well suited to the movie as a whole but there’s no way you’ll come away from this one thinking the world is bright and beautiful. It’s certainly not a movie for everyone but if a physcological thriller is your cup of tea you could do much worse.