An ultra-indie attempt to denounce the horrors of human trafficking, “Slave” is earnest and educational but rarely shows sufficient craft to match its laudable ambitions. Tale of Tatiana (Erinn Strain), a young Russian woman who arrives in Chicago via a newspaper ad thinking she’s going to work as an au pair but is drugged, raped and put to work as “a human ATM”: a dancer-cum-prostitute with no options and no hope of escape. Her tale alternates with the antics of a Chicago theater troupe dramatizing the plight of unsuspecting women like Tatiana. With further tightening, this uneven but refreshingly non-exploitative venture could raise awareness of international problem in niche screenings.
The first 20 minutes are almost completely dialogue-free as Tatiana leaves home and walks straight into sexual servitude. In a parallel story, actress Diana (Krissy Shields) auditions for and gets the role of a woman sold into white slavery. Tenuous connection between two strands is a chance exchange of glances between the real slave in a car with her ruthless captors and Diana on the street. Pic, some of which was shot on sets built for “Road to Perdition,” would benefit from less emphatic score. Olken reflects that the crime of human trafficking brings in an estimated $9 billion dollars annually — the same figure as gross receipts for movie ticket sales in the U.S.