Exploited (2010)

DVD Cover (Independent Entertainment)
Genres: Addiction Drama, Drama, Mockumentary, Shockumentary, Showbiz Drama
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Moses Moses
Jo Adell Jo Adell
Thomas Andersen Thomas Andersen
Brian Bnizzle Bailey Brian Bnizzle Bailey
Dustin Encallado Dustin Encallado
Ricky Gebin Ricky Gebin

6.0 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: April 04, 2011
I popped Exploited in earlier this morning, and about five minutes in, the woman of the house found herself turning around to watch bits and pieces of the film with me, something of a rarity considering our radically different taste in movies. Ten minutes in, she was thoroughly engrossed, and she watched the rest of the running time with me. When the credits began to roll, I asked her what she thought about it, to which she replied "I loved it - I'm always interested in a good documentary, and that was one of the better ones I've seen." Now, this comment may not mean much to the uninformed readers out there, but the thing is, Exploited is not a documentary. It portrays itself as such, but the events found within never happened and the characters are played by actors. It just so happens that the film is so engrossing and the characters so convincing that it truly feels like it is composed of genuine footage.

The story centers around a young lass named Mercedes who has dreams of becoming a fashion model. She puts together a portfolio of herself, working with no-name photographers and not getting much in the way of money for her troubles, but hey - everybody has to start somewhere in their quest to become famous, right? She eventually builds a decent portfolio and gets an interview with the head of a talent agency, and this is where the bombshell is dropped: she is not commercially viable in this line of work, due to her "rough" appearance (tattoos and piercings).

He suggests that maybe she look into another style of photography, and this leads her to pinup shoots... which leads to modeling in front of cars in barely-there bikinis... which leads to nude photography... and the spiral just continues downward until she is doing gangbang scenes in pornography and struggling to make enough money to support her drug habit. It's a sad story of abuse, in more ways than one, and the driving question throughout the film is "What will happen to this exploited young lady who sank so low to make a buck?"

It's easy for a filmmaker to portray their work as a documentary; all you have to do is get an actress in front of the camera and have her talk about the things that happen to her while occasionally showing some of said things. That's the easy part. The hard part is doing it convincingly, and the people here absolutely nailed it. As I mentioned, the female half of the household was thoroughly suckered by the presentation, and I even found myself wondering about the film from time to time. Mercedes plays her character with such raw emotion that it's hard to believe that it's fake: from her completely natural way of delivering her lines, to her emotional breakdowns later, and everything else that she goes through, it all feels legit. Even Ron Jeremy, who shows up in a small cameo appearance, manages to turn in a great performance.

There are also a lot of little things that add to the legitimacy - the car modelling bit showed a number of photographs that you would fully expect to see plastered inside of various magazines, while the pornography that she starred in comes complete with a quick clip from the film and a DVD cover. It's mind-boggling how far they went to keep the illusion alive, but I'll definitely say that it worked. There are no flaws in the film that will have you saying "Yeah, she's totally acting right there" or "Damn, that is so freaking fake." This leaves you free to enjoy the storyline, and what a heartbreaking story it is.

As for the "pornography" side of things - this would be the equivalent of an R-rated film, for those wondering. There is plenty of nudity, but all of the actual sex scenes are censored with big black boxes so that we can "see" her in hardcore sex scenes while preventing us from realizing that she isn't actually fucking anybody. The boxes do get annoying, but I can fully understand why they were used. However, showing her involvement in hardcore pornography does not account for a huge chunk of the running time (this isn't a skin-flick, after all) so it doesn't truly hurt the film in the long run.

Those of you interested in faux documentaries, the sex business, or damned fine pieces of drama in general owe it to yourselves to check this one out. I put off watching it for a couple of weeks thinking that it was merely a piece of sexploitation fare, but it was nothing of the sort; in fact, it's one of the better drama films that I've seen in years. Huge thumbs up, and a 9/10.
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