Sold

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Sold Movie Poster Image
Heartbreaking tale of child sex trafficking finds hope.
  • PG-13
  • 2016
  • 54 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Gives an important voice to the millions of children who are victims of sexual trafficking worldwide. Shows that even one committed advocate can be a part of healing the world. Themes include perseverance, courage, integrity, and empathy.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Celebrates one child's resilience, courage, and unflagging spirit as it marks her journey from innocence to powerless victim and back again. Lakshmi shows a stunning ability to adapt yet retain empathy, the ability to laugh, and a strong sense of self. Defined by a callous lack of empathy, on the other hand, are the women who enslave the girls. They're aided by brutish male assistants and sexually eager "customers." Heroic adults are white American activists who enlist the support of local authorities.

Violence

In multiple scenes, a young girl is held captive, threatened with bodily harm (including a knife), and forced to have sex for money. A girl screams for help, fights off a sexual predator, and bites and bloodies him. A fire breaks out in a room filled with young women. A girl watches as men secretly bury a body. A melee erupts as police raid a brothel and capture the staff. Sexual slavery is the story's focus, so all sexual activity falls under the umbrella of violence.

Sex

All sex in the movie is in the context of abuse and sexual slavery, covered in our Violence section. Girls are made to wear seductive clothing and makeup throughout.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some drinking and drunkenness. Smoking throughout.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Sold, based on the book by Patricia McCormick, is the fictional tale of one very young Nepalese girl's tragic journey from childhood to life as a sex slave in India. As harrowing as Lakshmi's story is, director Jeffrey D. Brown and his team have made a film that isn't exploitative; it's intended to educate and inspire. That said, it's always clear that Lakshmi is living in a brothel with other girls and women -- all of whom have been forced into sexual slavery. Scenes of sexual violation are kept in soft focus and are never graphic; there's no nudity. The camera stays close on Lakshmi, her face, and her reactions as she initially battles back with fury. Additional violence includes Lakshmi held captive and threatened with a knife, the girl biting and injuring her rapist, and a police raid with fighting. Note: This review is of the 54-minute PG-13 version of the movie; a longer, more intense version is also available.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byvesxii September 10, 2018

realistic

about a child sex slave. if rape bothers you, or even child rapists, do not even go near this
Teen, 14 years old Written byLUKEEVANS September 12, 2018

What's the story?

Nothing has prepared young Lakshmi (Niyar Saikia) for the surprising journey she takes in SOLD. Living in poverty in Nepal but finding joy in her simple life, the tween girl is devastated when she learns that her father has sold her to pay for a new roof after their old one collapsed in a storm. She's told that must leave home to work for a nice family. But far away, in India, Lakshmi slowly discovers that the "nice family" is, instead, Mumtaz (Susmita Mukherjee) -- the heartless owner of a brothel called "Happiness House" -- and her staff. Lakshmi's initiation and transformation into a sex worker is shocking, both to her and to viewers. Her first encounter with a middle-aged customer becomes violent when Lakshmi resists and prevails. The girl is punished; she's broken but not bowed. She finds childlike comfort in a relationship with a little boy, the son of one of her co-workers. And somehow, from behind the bars in the window of her small room, Lakshmi connects with an American journalist (Gillian Anderson) on the city streets who may be her only salvation.

Is it any good?

Beautifully photographed and featuring remarkable performances from two children, this film and its director Jeffrey D. Brown has captured horrific subject matter in a relatively gentle way. By telling one very personal story, the film promotes awareness of child sex trafficking and the efforts being made to combat it. In concert with Childreach International, a London-based development charity and the "Taught Not Trafficked" campaign, this film is aimed at educating the public, inspiring activism, and soliciting funds on behalf of more than 5 million child victims. A 97-minute version of Sold was shown and earned awards at many film festivals prior to its theatrical release; this review is of the 54-minute PG-13 version.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the violence in Sold. How does it compare to what you might see in movies with less realistic situations and settings? Which has more impact?

  • Why do you think the filmmakers (and the author of the book the movie was based on) chose to tell a fictional story rather than a true one? Do you think fiction makes difficult subject matter easier for audiences to absorb? If so, why?

  • Sold's goals are to educate and inspire a response to the sex trafficking of children. The filmmakers' point of view is clear, but why is it essential for viewers to understand the motives behind issue-oriented movies? If this movie has educated and/or inspired you, in what ways might you help the cause?

  • How does Sold promote perseverance and empathy? What about integrity and courage? Why are these important character strengths?

Movie details

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