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Exploring the Sleazy Underbelly of the Sex Industry

Inspired by a New York Times Magazine exposť of the international sex trafficking industry, Trade is an unsettling tale of abduction and forced prostitution, centered around Adriana, a 13-year old Mexican girl (Paulina Gaitan), and Veronica, a Polish teenager (Alicja Bachleda), who are abducted and forced into sexual slavery by Russian mobsters. It is relentlessly bleak, lurid in its depiction of the harsh indignities its underage victims must endure, and should be alarming to those who consider themselves insulated from such depravity.

Screenwriter Jose Rivera (The Motorcycle Diaries) could easily have built his story on the strength of that material alone, disquieting though it is, but instead he searches for the possibility of a happy ending. He finds it in the story of Ray (Kevin Kline), an aggressively earnest Texas Ranger, and Jorge (Cesar Ramos), Adrianaís older brother. Together, they form a hunting party, tracking the Russian thugs all the way to suburban New Jersey, where even some of the most quiet, well-to-do neighborhoods turn out to hide underground brothels.

Itís a far-fetched quest for justice, as Rivera devises a series of wild coincidences to keep his crime-fighting duo hot on the trail, and it distracts us, at times, from the real issues at hand. Even so, Trade retains an undeniable force, drawn from its graphic portrayal of unspeakable violence inflicted on the helpless. Flawed as it is, it is not easily forgotten.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars


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