is the worst possible sort of moral relativism.
Many times an American investigator is told he simply does not
understand the complicated circumstances that might force a young girl into
sexual slavery in Thailand. Being a good
Yank, he charges ahead anyway in Christopher Bessette’s Trade of Innocents (trailer here), which opens this Friday in New York.
tragedy of exploited children has particular resonance for Alex Becker and his
wife Claire. They still mourn their
young daughter who was abducted and eventually found murdered a year later.
After his military discharge, Becker joins an NGO invited into the country to
help the local police investigate and prosecute traffickers in young children. The previous police chief was genuinely
helpful, but his successor is definitely one of those well-you-have-to-appreciate-how-things-work-here
timing is suspiciously bad for this personnel change. Becker’s team has been building a strong case
against a particularly repellent slaver named Duke. With an American sex tourist demanding young
girls, Duke has his eye on a young girl in the neighborhood social worker Claire
Becker has befriended.
Trade is about as
manipulative as you might expect, if not more so. Frankly, that is rather to be expected of a
film fueled by outrage, produced with for the express purpose of shaming the
world into action. Without question
though, it is a work of true moral clarity.
Yet, it is pretty well put together from a technical perspective. While he could be said to play on audience
sympathies something fierce, writer-director Bessette makes them care about the
characters, steadily ratcheting up the tension accordingly.
the Beckers, Dermot Mulroney and Mira Sorvino have some surprisingly powerful
scenes together dealing with their still very raw grief. The former is a fairly credible take-charge
cop-on-the-edge during the film’s procedural sequences as well. Often cast as the western heavy in HK action
films, Jonathan Isgar also brings a distinctive look and presence to film as
Becker’s tall investigator colleague, Stan.
Shot entirely on-location in Bangkok, Trade definitely benefits from the
exotic locales and teeming slums. It is
a pretty competent attempt to rally support for its mission partners (examples
of which can be found on the film’s website), but it will probably not be
remembered as the Uncle Tom’s Cabin
in the fight against child exploitation.
Recommended for fans of Sorvino and those looking to spread awareness on
the issue, Trade of Innocents opens
this Friday (10/5) in New York at the Quad Cinema.
Labels: Child exploitation, Jonathan Isgar, Mira Sorvino