Eye For Film >> Movies >> 3 Years In Pakistan: The Erik Audé Story (2018) Film Review
3 Years In Pakistan: The Erik Audé Story
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
"Did you pack that case yourself?"
If you've passed through customs, you'll know this question. The person asking isn't really interested in your answer but in the subconscious movements you might make when delivering it, which help to filter who gets searched and who doesn't. Of course, people who don't know that they're carrying contraband are significantly less likely to give it away, which is one of the reasons why mules with no awareness of what's going on are a popular choice for smugglers. Where, in this day and age, does one find people naive enough to play that role? Try Hollywood.
Erik Audé is an actor and stuntman with a long list of films to his name, but like most actors (and despite what many film fans think), it's hard to make ends meet that way, so back in 2002 he was also working as a security guard. It was in that job that he met a stranger who offered him work carrying trade samples out of a variety of countries for $800 a time - a wage high enough to make it attractive and high enough, if he'd thought about it, to cover the use of a professional courier service. Knowing very little about the wider world and thinking that this man was his friend, Erik agreed - or at least, that's his version of events, and this film makes a convincing case for it.
The upshot of all this is the Erik spent three years in a prison in Pakistan. It could have been a lot longer if not for the sterling efforts of his mother Sherry who, despite starting from a similarly sheltered position, worked ceaselessly and developed her skills impressively in her determination to help him. Nevertheless, he experienced torture and the brutality of the prison system. He also made friends with people he might never have crossed paths with otherwise, from killers to hijackers; and learned a new language, and developed skills of his own that would change him in further unexpected ways.
Erik's story is not in itself an extraordinary one, but it's his determination to share it and to tell the stories of the people he met, to talk about both suffering and the generosity he encountered, that marks the film out. It sets out to provide the kind of education and awareness that might have helped him stay out of trouble in the first place. How compelling this is will depend on the educational level of the viewer, but although parts of it are slow, the scenes in which he talks about the friends he made are touching and his openness to experience makes him an effective intercultural guide.
Jamielyn Lippman makes some curious choices as director, such as the inclusion of a scene in which she is filmed, in company, discussing the break-up of a relationship with a third party over the phone. Scenes in which she attempts to track down the man who apparently framed Erik also play a little oddly and don't add much to the film, except perhaps as proof that she was trying to make something more comprehensive. Nevertheless, this is an interesting little film in as far as it goes, and for those unfamiliar with Erik's story it has a perfect Hollywood twist at the end.Reviewed on: 25 Sep 2018