Australia’s entry into the race for the 2020 Oscar for best foreign language film is Buoyancy, a powerful, moving and simply told tale of Chakra, a 14 year-old Cambodian boy enslaved on a Thai fishing vessel.

In his feature film debut, writer/director Rodd Rathjen choses to focus on the narrative as Chakra (a captivating and inscrutable performance from newcomer Sarm Heng) navigates his survival from the cruel and arbitrary violence of the captain and threats from other enslaved crew members.

With its focus on Chakra (who is hardly off-screen), avoidance of gratuitous violence (there are a couple of scenes hard to stomach but necessary to emphasise the implicit inhumanity of the situation) and steering clear of heavy-handed sermonising (human trafficking and modern day enslavement), Rathjen has realised an assured and pertinent drama.

Rating: 76%