(aka 'The Girls Next Door' or 'Trade - Willkommen in Amerika' or 'Welcome to America')
Germany / USA 2007
"Trade" plays pretty rough, which is as it should be. If it didn't, it could easily become just a suspense story that offers a thrill of horror rather than a nasty bit of business with just enough familiar trappings to pull the audience along. As it is, it's kind of on the line, probably a nice place for this movie to be: It gets the audience angry but doesn't quite send them running for the exits.
Theatrical Release: January 23rd, 2007 - Sundance Film Festival
DVD Review: Lionsgate - Region 1 - NTSC
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|Distribution||Lionsgate - Region 1 - NTSC|
Average Bitrate: 6.33 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.
|Audio||English (Dolby Digital 5.1) , English (Dolby Digital 2.0)|
|Subtitles||English, Spanish, None|
by director and producer
The Lionsgate transfer does not appear crystal-clear but this is partly due to the manner in which it was shot - with a gritty, Indie edge and feel. There are lots of hand-held modulations and hence plenty of hazy shots in the film. The dual-layered, progressive and anamorphic DVD represents these moments with accuracy but I still think the image is somewhat less sharp than one might expect from a modern film. Even close-ups are not that detailed. Contrast seems good and colors a little dull (this again may be intentional). Overall the image is expectantly free of dirt and has no untoward digital manipulation. In my opinion, it looks as good as it ever will on SD DVD.
Audio offers two flavors - a moderately utilized 5.1 track with sparring separation and a 2.0 channel. Both seemed fine to me - reporting the dialogue softly, but well enough to determine what is being conveyed. There is a lot of (Mexican) Spanish in the film (and some Russian?) and it is expressed with mandatory English subtitles. There are optional English or Spanish subtitles as well thereby covering all the dialogue.
Extras include a director/producer commentary. Kreuzpaintner discusses trying to represent the two countries (Mexico and the USA) using different cinematographic techniques - ditto for his usage of the handheld for conversations in Mexico. It is good with a few gaps. There are two featurettes - Chasing Shadows: Uncovering the Truth is 20 minutes and has input from director, screenwriter, cast and crew about the desire of the film and expressing its message of awareness. Paper to Print is 8 minutes and talks about bringing the story to the screen - the hurdles and how to identify and express the concepts with maximum effectiveness on film. There are a whopping 16 deleted scenes (20 minutes worth) shown 4:3 letterboxed - those who enjoyed the film may find interest in viewing them.
The film (big sigh): ... aside perhaps from straight pedophilia, there is no more disturbing a topic as the 'trade' of human beings as slaves - generally for sexual gratification. Even though this film NEVER delves overly deeply into the more crude aspects - partly because it doesn't want to titillate individuals who are bent enough to find it appealing - it still gives you repulsive shivers of whom we are sharing this planet with. I think Kreuzpaintner does an excellent job of transmitting that awareness without succumbing to cinema's easy route of exploitation. This film is relatively gentle but hits home with undeniable force. Is it a perfect film? - far from it . I've always loved Kevin Kline and he is a good strong-silent type but here his character is quite unemotional and 'stayed' - perhaps a little more than necessary. Is this an easy film to make? - not properly and it gives as good as it gets right down the line. It may strike some a quite 'Hollywood' ( a sell-out from 'The Motorcycle Diaries') but although I found it differently impacting than Lilja 4ever, it, regardless, touched me a great deal. I think it is very much worth seeing. I won't be forgetting it very soon.
Non-removable non-English sample
Optional English subtitle sample