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Trade (2007)

Trade. Feature film. (2007, 120 mins) IMDB

...Why do filmmakers make such bleak films...

T

he filmmakers would like you to believe this is the first film to follow the plight of women who are abducted or conned into becoming prostitutes--the sex slave trade into the US. It isn't. I've seen at least one movie on the topic, although the title escapes me at the moment.

Abducted. Conned or duped. Sex slaves. Topics that bring out the dark side of human nature. I wonder why filmmakers want to show it.

An easy answer is to allow us to feel good about ourselves. Look, someone says, I'm glad I'm not in that situation. Maybe. The same argument is made about news in general. It's filled with negative events (wars, fires, murders, accidents...). People read the newspapers and watch the television, day after day, and find comfort from other people's misery. Schadenfreude. I think it's a sad way to live life.

People build themselves up by putting others down. Sad to the nth degree, but it occurs every second we're alive.

But back to this film.

It starts out in Mexico where we meet a young man named Jorge. He has a mother and young sister. His father is nowhere to be seen. He makes a living by conning and robbing tourists. As far as he is concerned, life is good until some Russians abduct his thirteen-year old sister off the street and push her into a sex slave trade headed for New Jersey.

He follows after her and the narrative is in full swing.

Along the way he meets Kevin Kline who plays a Texas cop searching for something that isn't clearly defined until later in the film. They join forces and search for Jorge's sister.

The film shows the brutality of the captors. Rape. Forced drugs. Beatings. Coercion. And if you think it's just dirty old men wanting sex with young girls, there are young boys who are treated just as badly.

The film follows a three-act structure. Sister abducted. Follow her. Meet up with Kline. Arrive in New Jersey. Find the girl. Confrontation to save her and they succeed.

TRADE is not a film one can enjoy. Who can enjoy a rape scene? Who can enjoy a suicide? It's not a film to be a enjoyed. There is a sense of routing for the victim and that develops. Of routing for Jorge to redeem himself because he's the reason his sister is where she is and that develops. But at the end, when the abductor's world crumbles, there is no sense of triumph or relief and I don't understand why.

Posted 2009/03/27 at 20h05ET in Movie Commentary.

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