Priceless Review - Indie Film Packs A Powerful Faith Based Message

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Priceless, from Roadside Attractions and Radiate Film Production, presents a contemporary issue and modern drama on the cost of human trafficking, the illusion of greener pastures and the once in a lifetime miracle of escape.

Directed by Ben Smallbone, Priceless stars Joel Smallbone, Bianca Santos, Amber Midthunder with Jim Patrick and David Koechner. Priceless was written by Chris Dowling and Tyler Poelle.

Priceless begins with a series of flashbacks which is how we meet the former family of widower James, played by Joel Smallbone. His wife, Melody played Lora Martinez-Cunningham died and unable to handle the emotional emptiness and his daughter Emmy, played by Sierra Rose Smith, he loses custody and fortunately Emmy stays with his mother.

Taking odd gigs, James picked up a high paying quick fix cash job and drives what he believes is an empty box truck. Nearly falling asleep at the wheel he runs off the road and bounces around a bit which is how he hears the sounds coming from the truck back.

Breaking off the lock he opens the back and finds two Mexican women, apparently being smuggled to pay off a debt of a family member. James, who speaks no Spanish, convinces the women to sit in the cab with him.

A gentleman struggling with his own despair and loneliness, despondent over the loss of his child and wife, simply out of courtesy he offers the women, Maria, played by Amber Midthunder and Antonia, played by Bianca Santos, a change of clothing, food and the opportunity clean themselves.

As the film centers on the unknown presence of God working in lives and surroundings, we find that Antonia has a strong catholic belief that seems to hold her in the midst of her current unknown circumstances. Shipped out by family, essentially sold into slavery by family members, she and her younger sister are under the illusion of working as a domestic or other work most would not want to endure.

As Priceless progresses we find the girls are sold into the sex trade. James, ends up taking the cash for delivery and trying to ignore the persistent nagging and yet still small voice, he gets a room.

The proprietor Dale, played by David Koechner, listens as James explains his feelings, the girls, the situation the tumbling out of control, and escalating belief that he is “called” to rescue Antonia. After a couple of attempts at conventional methods, he understands she is committed to keeping her sister with her and in order to rescue her he will need to rescue both of them.

Priceless deals with heavy topics that plague our society today. Human Trafficking, sex slavery, rape and religious interpretation which can be alienating.

I watched Priceless without preconceived ideas of the film. I thought it was triumphant film, with the subject matter its difficult to say "It was good or offer a glowing recap. Priceless is solid. The story holds the attention. Drawing in the audience, the story causes reactions. 

Joel Smallbone who is a member of the Christian music group, For King & Country, and “won a couple of Grammy’s” as he says, is the novice in the bunch. He is a better actor than he thinks.

David Koechner, who movie goers may recognize from The Office, Jim Parrack, who play Garo, the Mexican Pimp living in America, recently came off the wildly popular Suicide Squad, and Bianca Santos, is well known for many roles.

Escape and rescue from prostitution, sex slavery is virtually impossible and the Smallbone's, Joel and Director Ben, have adopted the important and significant cause.  Priceless came into being through a documentary shot by Ben who followed a former pimp around as he rescued girls from the streets.

So, with all that said. I did feel there were moments when the reactions were toned down. And bringing that point up with the Director Ben Smallbone, who is making his feature directorial debut with Priceless, said during our interview, “so the story there is with the violation scene what we ended up with on the screen is about half of what we shot.”  

As a film with a foundation of faith, the characters can take on the allegory of Christ laying down his life for the believer, the Christian metaphors are clear and yet subtle not affecting the story line which is dramatic and timely.

It is also important to note, for a debut feature Priceless is exceptionally well done. An indie film, Ben Smallbone was able to compensate for the low budget. The talent brought a depth of skill to very meaty roles with minimal compensation. These individual were committed to the project and creating a statement film.

Priceless crosses the faith line into the issues of self-worth, as self-esteem issues are not limited to those with or those without faith. End It is a coalition of leading organization in the world in the fight for freedom. Each of the Coalition Partners are doing the work on the ground, every day, to bring awareness, prevention, rescue and restoration.

Priceless supports and formed alliances with Coalition Partners dedicated to ending Human Trafficking, Sex slavery, and Prostitution. A21, International Justice mission, As Our Own, Love 146, Bombay Teen Challenge, Made in the Free World, ECPAT, Not For Sale, The Exodus, Polaris, Free The Slaves, The Salvation Army, Hager, Hope For Justice, World Relief, World Vision. Additional Partners include Saving Innocence End Child Sex Trafficking, Alamance For Freedom, On Eagles Wings Luna, Agape International Missions, My Sister’s House, Wellspring Living, FAST, Faith Alliance Against Slavery and Trafficking, Selah Freedom, A Safe Place, There is Hope for Me, Michigan Abolitionist Project (MAP). 

Each of these organization can be found by accessing this link: http://pricelessthemovie.com/partners  

Faith based and family oriented, Priceless is a film that broaches topics of concern and provides ample opportunity for family discussion.

Priceless is in theaters. See it.

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