Trade of Innocents: A Movie that Moves Me

Take the 7 line to the F line into the city from Jackson Heights after I miraculously find parking on a side-street near the station! Get off at 14th street and then proceed to cross the same street—three times, because as much as I love the city, I still get turned around when I enter Manhattan via subway. I think the numbers are going up. So I turn around and walk the other way. But the addresses are even higher numbers, and so I turn back around and find The Quad Cinema less than a block away. 

I approach the booth and after eyeing the steep New York City movie fares, I crouch down when my turn comes and say, “One child ticket please.”
The guy behind the counter chuckles. “Eleven dollars.”
“Right. One adult ticket for Trade of Innocents.
I’m five minutes early and the place is so packed, I have to settle for the only seat left. The one right in front. Kidding. The fact of the matter is, it’s a 1:00PM show on Columbus Day, and I have Theater #1 all to myself. By the time the ten or so previews roll, I hear a rustle of feet behind me. Now there are three of us. Just in time for the show.


I came to the city by myself today. I had big plans to meet up with a new friend. When she cancelled last night, I called a different friend up, but I hate asking people to join me at the last second. She was busy. So I just settled into the idea that I was movie-going it alone.

I went to plenty of movies by myself when I was in high school. Okay, maybe just a few. But even this off-the-charts extrovert doesn’t mind the occasional quiet company of me, myself and I. Plus, the movie I am watching today is the kind of movie I like to spend time digesting before talking to someone about. Because Trade of Innocents addresses the crime that wrecks me—child sex-trafficking.

How do you click “Like” when it comes to movies like these? Of course I like the fact that there are characters that team up to rescue the young victims. I like the female heroine Claire, played by actress Mira Sorvino, who pretty much says, “Over my dead body will you take this seven-year old child from my arms and traffic her to that old sleaze ball that wants to pay thirty grand to abuse her for an entire month.” And what’s not to love when it comes to a hero who refuses to back down no matter what explanation, justification or cultural excuse enablers of the sex-trafficking industry cling to.

The acting is well done. The cinematic delivery exceptional considering this isn’t a high budget Hollywood film. Sure, there are occasional “fact-drops” about the stats of this growing criminal industry, but I think when you’re passionate about a cause, educating others is often on the forefront of your thoughts.

I think my only critique of the movie is the driving motivation of the main character Alex, played by actor Dermot Mulroney. He regrets a missed opportunity in his past and strives to redeem himself with his future actions. He wants to play the hero to make up for a time when his absence cost him dearly. Emotions are evoked. Connections are made. But I must admit, I felt a tad manipulated.

Yes, in reality, each of us is a product of our past and the pivitol highs and lows naturally shape our pursuits. But, deep down, I don’t want him to fight this cause to make up for a failure in his past. I want him to fight for these kids, because they deserve to be fought for. Period.

And of course he believes in the cause. He wouldn’t be in Cambodia heading the task force if he didn’t. In the end, I’m thrilled that producers are willing to tackle this issue and bring it to the big screen. A lot of people clearly don’t know how rampant sex-trafficking has spread across the continents. And children make up such a huge percentage of the victims.

The line in the movie that strikes a chord in me happens when the American cop asks the Cambodian Police chief six critical words as a response to the native Police chief’s resistance to fighting back:

“What if she were your daughter?”

The Police chief averts his eyes and remains silent.

And in that brief moment, he reacts as so many of us will in our lifetime. Shed a tear. Say a prayer. And walk away. Quietly. Because someone else can take up the baton. It’s not my fight after all. My kids are safe. My life is good. I’m busy.

I have a challenge for you. And it’s not to jump on my bandwagon. Rather, I want you to find one thing outside yourself and your immediate worries to care about. One cause in your lifetime that you plan to make a dent in. Maybe you already have one. There are so many to choose from. Poverty. Homelessness. Aids. Breast cancer. And the list goes on and on.

I don’t know what stirs up your heart. But when your heart is stirred, take your emotions one step further and be an instrument of change. Find a group that champions your cause and contribute. Your gifts, your time, your finances, and your heart.

Because change will happen when each person moves from tears to action. From words to service. From concern to cost. Because getting involved will cost you. But the price of doing nothing is similar to the Police Chief in the movie. Perhaps he temporarily avoids conflict. But in the end, he must face himself in the mirror and go to sleep knowing he could have done something when he chose to do nothing.

Life is short. Choose. And then move.

**I know I’ve asked before… What wrecks you? Have you seen the movie? What did you think?

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2 thoughts on “Trade of Innocents: A Movie that Moves Me

  1. Hi Raj,
    Sounds like a movie worth seeing. Your comments at the end of the post make me think of this great Bill Hybels sermon on what he calls “holy discontent.” It is about finding what sort of injustice or situation that you see in the world that you simply cannot stand and how you can take action rather than simply feel depressed or angry about it, which is what we usually do. He makes the point that God cannot stand these things either, and He is the source of those unsettled, “I can’t stand this” feelings. I think it’s clear what your holy discontent is! Anyway, I know you can download the sermon and listen to it online, I’m sure you would love it!

    • Hey Caitlin! I think we heard the same talk, just different occasions. I heard B. Hybels in the city ask that question: What wrecks you? and it helped me to pinpoint what breaks my heart the most! Glad yur back!! <3 Raj