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Movie Review

Trade a.k.a. “The Girls Next Door,” “In the Tunnel,” “Welcome to America,” “Trade—Willkommen in Amerika”

MPAA Rating: R for disturbing sexual material involving minors, violence including a rape, language and some drug content

Reviewed by: Misty Wagner

Extremely Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Crime, Drama, Thriller, Adaptation
1 hr. 59 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
September 28 (90 theaters); Sept. 21, 2007 (LA/NY)
DVD release: January 29, 2008
Featuring: Kevin Kline, Alicja Bachleda-Curus, Paulina Gaitan, Kathleen Gati, Pavel Lychnikoff, Anthony Crivello, Linda Emond, Zack Ward, Kate del Castillo, Cesar Ramos
Director: Marco Kreuzpaintner
Producer: Mariano Carranco, Jakob Claussen, Amanda DiGiulio, Roland Emmerich, Dave Gare, Nick Hamson, Rosilyn Heller, Peter Landesman, Robert Leger, Patty Long, Ulrike Putz, Lars Sylvest, Oswald von Richthofen, Ossie Von Richtofen, Michael Wimer, Thomas Wöbke, Andreas Grosch, Andreas Schmid
Distributor: Lionsgate

“Each year, more than 1,000,000 people are trafficked across international borders… against their will.”

Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “Adriana (Paulina Gaitan) is a 13-year-old girl from Mexico City whose kidnapping by sex traffickers sets in motion a desperate mission by her 17-year-old brother, Jorge (Cesar Ramos), to save her. Trapped and terrified by an underground network of international thugs who earn millions exploiting their human cargo, Adriana’s only friend and protector throughout her ordeal is Veronica (Alicja Bachleda), a young Polish woman tricked into the trade by the same criminal gang. As Jorge dodges immigration officers and incredible obstacles to track the girls’ abductors, he meets Ray (Kevin Kline), a Texas cop whose own family loss to sex trafficking leads him to become an ally in the boy’s quest.”

“Trade” is the story of an amateur con artist in Mexico named Jorge, who considers himself a member of the tourist industry. With a bitter attitude towards white men, he robs them and has no moral scruples about terrifying them or profiting for their misfortune.

When his 13 year old sister Adriana is abducted into an international underground sex trade, Jorge goes to any lengths possible to find her and bring her home. Along the way he meets a Ray (Kevin Kline), a white man on a similar mission. This film moves back and forth between Adriana’s experiences, Jorge’s journey and the developing of peace and eventual friendship between Jorge and Ray.

As hard of a film as “Trade” is to watch, it is even harder to review.

What was obviously made as a film to raise awareness, is certainly not a movie for just anyone. There is NO entertainment value, in this film whatsoever. There is drug use, suicide, murder, extreme violence, brutality, rape, heavily implied pedaphilism—which at times is shown in brief snippets, and incredibly heavy language and dialog.

There are a few moments of completely awkward attempts at humor in the interactions between Ray and Jorge. Likely these were inserted to lighten up the weight of the film, but they fail completely. It was for the flawed manner of these scenes alone that I couldn’t give the film 5 stars in quality. This aside, the performances are strong and remarkable and the cinematography is gritty and strong.

The ending is beautiful, and very Hollywood in it’s justice and happily ever after implications. Though it ties everything up neatly, the film’s content is so heavy that you still feel weighed down with burden and sadness.

Coming from Mexico, it is displayed that the common faith between most of the captors as well as Jorge and Adriana is Catholicism. Though questions are asked, Adriana never once loses faith. She never once stops praying to Mary and Saint Veronica or even trusting that some form of divine being will see it fit to intervene in her fate and rescue Adriana. Though her faith is uplifting, the disturbing twist to this scenario is that the main captor is also very committed to his religion and can sell innocent children and kneel in a humble prayer all in the same day.

I feel as though this review is coming off somewhat disjointed. There is so much in this movie, most of which really should bother anyone who watches it immensely. It is a very raw film, and it is realistic in the sense that incidents just like these are happening under our noses. Though these particular characters are fictitious, the premise behind this tale is not. At the end of the film, we are shown statistics about the number of foreign young women and children who are smuggled into the United States and sold within the sex trade industry. Sexual abuse of any nature is still one of the most serious crimes, with the least severe consequences, in our Nation. Education and awareness are key factors in reducing these incidents and statistics. I cannot recommend that people go rent “Trade” in an effort to educate themselves, however… That isn’t saying I don’t believe films like this shouldn’t be made, I just feel that anyone watching them needs to use extreme amounts of caution.

*“Trade” is a film that could trigger many reactions to one’s sexual abuse history, so if this is something in your past, then I strongly encourage you to not see this film.

Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Extreme

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Movie Critics
…The film has many powerful moments, ones that hit you in the gut. …
—Phil Boatwright, Preview Family Movie and TV Review
…Steel your heart for this skillfull thriller about child sex slaves…
—William Arnold, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
…‘Trade’ should have been a documentary… feels more exploitative than enlightening—and, fundamentally, it’s a rather rushed thriller that offers more in the way of queasy moments than genuine suspense.
—Christy Lemire The Associated Press
…Humdrum generic reduction of real-life international sex-slavery ring…
—Duane Byrge, The Hollywood Reporter
…It’s a film about filth, and it is filthy. It’s a film about depravity, and it is depraved. It’s a hard and painful movie to watch. Yet, ‘Trade’ in some ways is practically Pollyanna. Onscreen, the girl is saved. And at least a few of the bad guys are caught. …
—Paul Asay, Plugged In