Selling Isobel (2016) – movie review

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Selling IsobelMovie Review by EDF

Starring: Frida Farrell, Gabriel Olds, Matthew Marsden
Director: Rudolf Buitendach

Isobel (Frida Farrell), a Pilate’s instructor, is having lunch at a local cafe. After a chance meeting with Peter (Gabriel Olds), a photographer who has been let down by a model who did not turn up for a photo shoot for a cruise liner, he offers Isobel seven thousand dollars for 15 minutes work. Isobel discuss this with her boyfriend Mark (Matthew Marsden), who thinks that she should go for it. Isobel goes by herself to the address Peter provided, but she starts to have second thoughts when she gets to the building. Peter convinces Isobel to go in and meet Chloe (Amber Benson) who will be assisting with the photo shoot. The shoot goes well and Isobel gets a call from Chloe confirming that the cruise liner would like her to be in the ad and to go back to the address the next day for another photo shoot.

Isobel turns up at the address where Peter invites her in. As soon as she walks in, Isobel finds that the photo studio has now turned into a sparsely decorated apartment. Peter locks the door and starts to describe to Isobel the sort of pain the knife he is holding can cause to another person. Peter instructs Isobel to change into the outfit he has for her in a paper bag and then forces her to drink a milky liquid. She passes out but wakes up to a nightmare, where she is told that the first client is always the hardest and that this small bedroom is now her new home.

One of the interesting aspects of SELLING ISOBEL is that this is based on a true story. To be exact, this is Frida Farrell’s story who was kidnapped in London and forced to become a sex slave. At the start of the movie, Frida appears stating that this is not a victim’s story but a survivor’s story. What enfolds is a gripping, distressing and disturbing story. Close up facial shots of Isobel in pain as all manner of things are done to her tells more than you want to see or know. That is not to say the film makers are visually holding back but they do hold back enough not to be exploitive. You do have a sense that in the wrong hands the movie could have been a whole lot nastier and the director Rudolf Buitendach shows you enough to make you feel uncomfortable. This is an important movie as this comes straight from Frida’s experience of what happened to her. We are lucky that she survived to tell her story as a warning that sometimes an offer that seems too good to be true can have a malicious, life changing price tag attached to it.

4 out of 6 stars interview with star and co-writer Frida Farrell:

Selling Isobel: Interview with star and co-writer Frida Farrell