Small World

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When a four-year-old girl is kidnapped in Poland by the Russian Mafia, police officer Robert Goc (Piotr Adamczyk) takes it upon himself to spearhead the investigation to track her down and bring her home. The job, however, leads him to the dark, depraved underworld of human trafficking, where he’ll spend years searching. Written and directed by Patryk Vega, with a script co-written alongside Olaf Olszewski, Small World takes aim at spotlighting the horrors of child sex trafficking. 

Vega’s latest project makes for some deeply uncomfortable viewing. The filmmaker doesn’t shy away from the abuse and cruelty that comes with a taboo subject such as this. While the film confronts viewers with numerous harrowing interactions and moments of pure depravity, the writer-director keeps events on the razor-thin line between shocking and exploitative. 

The script wastes no time in jumping straight into the action. After a short set-up, viewers are flung into the investigation as they trace the child’s journey alongside Goc. A lot happens within the first hour. The officer’s search spans various countries across a large period of time, with each step highlighting another sinister part of this criminal operation. It’s towards the midway point, however, that the plot begins to go off the rails and the genre dips its toes in torture porn. These brief moments are suitably grim in nature, but their excessive style and out-of-nowhere inclusion removes the second half from the grounded manner of the first, which ultimately turns the gritty crime investigation into bloody revenge thriller.

Likewise, some of the exposition and thematic content is clumsily delivered. Often, characters will spout statistics as if they were reading a presentation. These moments come across as unnatural and disrupt the flow of otherwise tense confrontations.

Given its subject matter, Small World is a devastatingly bleak crime thriller that takes no pleasure in confronting viewers with the realities of child trafficking. It’s not an especially fun viewing experience, and it’s not supposed to be. If it weren’t for momentary disruptions in tone, this film would have left an even bigger impression.

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