Trade * *1/2

Posted: September 28, 2007

Directed by Marco Kreuzpaintner, with Kevin Kline, Paulina Gaitan, Cesar Ramos and Alicja Bachleda-Curus. 1 hour, 59 mins. R (violence, sexual violence, profanity, drugs, adult themes). Distributed by Roadside Attractions. Playing at: Ritz at the Bourse.

Trade is about sex trafficking - a young mother from Poland, a 13-year-old girl from Mexico, a preteen boy from Thailand, all abducted, drugged, and auctioned off to a global network of sleazeballs. Written by Motorcycle Diaries Oscar-nominee Jose Rivera, and directed by the German Marco Kreuzpaintner, it's a slick thriller that aspires for, and occasionally achieves, the gritty realism of a film like Maria Full of Grace.

Other times, however, Trade comes off like TV-movie sensationalism, sidetracked by distracting backstories and hard-to-swallow plot twists.

Although Kevin Kline, playing a cop on a personal quest for a missing girl, gets top billing, the strongest acting here comes from a pair of teens: Paulina Gaitan, as Adriana, a Mexico City kid kidnapped by Russian sex-traders as she's riding the new bike she received for her 13th birthday, and Cesar Ramos, as Jorge, her older brother, a street hustler who follows his sister's abductors across the border and all the way to a house in New Jersey.

The young Mexicans' spirit and smarts serve to underscore the grim, grubby world that their characters have fallen into.

- Steven Rea

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