REVIEWED BY: Hugo Wilkinson
RELEASED: February 10
Nadya is a 13-year-old girl from Siberia. She wants to make money for her family, and so agrees to travel to Japan to work as a model. The money is good, she is told, and the Japanese market loves young girls. From here, this slow-burning documentary skims across the surface of a yawning void of despair. Ashley, the American model scout who picks Nadya, has made a career from sending young Russian girls to Japan, and is herself an ex-model. She seems both damaged by the experience and in denial of the effect of such work on her girls. Nadya’s progress into the cold backstreets of Tokyo is interspersed with Ashley’s unhappy video diaries from her modelling days, and through this we catch a glimpse of a grim—and mostly illegal—world. The narrative is sparse, but the film-makers deftly shed light on this outpost of shattered dreams. Brilliant, if unrelentingly bleak.
Girl Model is also released on DVD from February 20.