Mia is a beautiful, successful Parisian photographer who dreams of motherhood. One day, she flies to Cambodia to surprise her husband. However, the surprise is hers when she finds him brothel-deep with a bare wisp of a girl. With her eyes open and her heart shattered, her desire to end one cycle of abuse sends her down a path that only grows darker with each step.
Mia’s first charge is to rescue Srey, the young girl her husband was with. Buying liberation comes at a high cost for Mia as she must strike a deal with Sanaan, Srey’s pimp. It’s a deal that brings back her old bourgeois drug addictions despite the dull awareness that her comfortable life is quickly slipping away from her. Things only get worse halfway into the jungle when she realizes that she has two other child stowaways from Sanann’s pedophilic brothel with her. However, faced with even more hopeless faces to help, she instead finds a new motherly strength well beyond her old sheltered life she’s lost.
Talking to the Trees is an interesting mix of both Cambodia’s darker and brighter elements. It’s true that any photographic colour it has seems instantly dulled by the systematic complicity from the government, criminals, urbanites and foreigners who litter the landscape so much. However, the real story here is about awakening. Mia’s ignorance falls away with believable and naive unease once faced with painful realities up close. And with the help of those few goodhearted people – like a policeman named Munny who do exist in that system, redemption, no matter how hard, is still possible.