19 January 2008 | DICK STEEL
A Nutshell Review: Trade
The plight of innocent victims of human trafficking for sex has moved filmmakers enough to make movies addressing the issue. The last two in recent memory that I've watch are Your Name is Justine, and Lilya-4ever, both which put the spotlight specifically on the characters created, highlighting the abuse they receive and exposing some of the tricks that the conmen exploit in order to target and thereafter control their prey. Given that the viewpoint of the entire unfortunate ordeal from the perspective of the victims have been portrayed, and is easy and turning the same wheel if done again, Trade takes on a more macroscopic look, while still maintaining a finger in a more personalized tale, in order to ramp up the human drama and emotions.
While the other two movies mentioned take place primarily in Europe, Trade highlights a more international network involved in the supply chain, where increasing amounts of money get exchanged for women and children to feed the demand by perverts and paedophiles. While having its premise for the demand set in USA, it goes to show that the unfortunate victims come from all over the world, and suggests the use of Mexico as the proxy to get into the USA illegally, no doubt with the help of corrupted authorities. From then on, it's an established hush-hush protocol of transfers and transactions that take place in the most unseeming of places, and naturally technology comes to play in anonymous bidding on the internet.
Primarily, this story is a race against time, following a young Mexican boy, Jorge (Cesar Raoms), in his chase to rescue his sister Adriana (Paulina Gaitan) as she gets abducted randomly off the streets - being a young child, she is set to obtain record prices should she be auctioned off to be deflowered. While Adriana gets to enter USA through already established methods by the syndicate, Jorge has to rely on his street smarts, and unwittingly gets hooked up with US cop Ray Sheridan, played by Kevin Kline, who assists in Jorge's quest under moral circumstances rather than deporting Jorge straightaway for being a stray.
Like a buddy cop movie, Trade also looks at the unlikely partnership between street delinquent and tough nose cop with the heart of gold, as they try and penetrate the system, while leaving room for some clash of cultures and slightly comedic instances. The unfortunate circumstance of the victims are again getting a shiner in order to be subdued, and of course the weapon of choice, rape. And the movie results in you silently cursing the worst for those involved in the trade, and never sympathizing an iota with them when they receive their dues.
Technical wise, someone should tell the filmmakers that password fields are always asterisk, never in clear text, even the dumbest website programmer won't make that mistake. One of my other peeves here was the decision not to mount the camera on a tripod. While it's not the extreme kind of shaky cam like Cloverfield's, it did bring on some queasiness given the very minor movements, all of the time. I don't see the need for this, and wondered if it's because it might look cool and edgy with the fast cuts and all that the tripod was junked, wrongly.
Based on a New York Times Magazine article published on 25 Jan 2004 written by Peter Landesman, Trade offers to strike a balance between painting a picture of sympathy for the victims and disgust for the perpetrators. Unlike the other movies which has come before, Trade managed to spin a somewhat refreshing look at the worldwide sex slavery problem.