Where to begin? Lowest-common denominator filmmaking in the guise of a “social problem picture,” Trade does indeed make us mad, as director Marco Kreuzpaintner has said he wanted – but not in the way he intends. So much that’s so wrong and so bad flies out of Trade so quickly that the audience practically has to duck and cover from shrapnel. From its flagrant exoticization-cum-demonization of Mexico City to its predictably trendy, faceless aesthetic to its uproariously hammy acting, Trade is a disaster from the top down. Obviously the work of a filmmaker who has genuinely no ideas about the ethics of storytelling or representation, Trade is essentially Hostel Part Two but designed to make you feel good for having learned about “something.”
And what is that something? Why it’s the hot topic of human trafficking, an undeniably serious human-rights issue that’s become the narrative playground of exploitation hacks looking for credibility: amoral genre filmmakers, you now have your social problem of choice! It’s apparent from the get-go that Kreuzpaintner has more interest in car-crash shock cuts and panties bunched up around molested women’s flailing ankles (that would be eight punches to girls’ faces too many, thank you very much) than exposing the harsh realities of underage sexual slavery or impoverished south-of-the-border life – which incidentally is introduced by this German filmmaker (whose last film was, oddly, the misshapen but good-natured gay coming-of-age flick Summer Storm – more underage flesh, but sun-dappled and safe) when wispy protagonist Jorge (Cesar Ramos) robs an American tourist and says, “What do weee doooo to greengos who don’t respect Mexicans?” before squirting him with a water gun and laughing, “Die, beetch!” Cue upbeat mariachi music.
Click here if you actually want to read more of Michael Koresky’s review of Trade.