Critical Condition: The Trade

The Trade | TVNZ OnDemand, from Tuesday

➢➢ “An examination of America’s opioid epidemic from production to distribution to consumption, The Trade is lacerating, heartbreaking and current … Director Matthew Heineman gets the sort of documentary access that is uncomfortable and impossible to look away from … The Trade is, like Heineman’s other documentaries, beautifully shot. The lush poppy fields, sparkling skylines and images of urban squalor and suburban sterility are lovingly captured, as are even conventional talking heads or intimate close-ups. It seems like such a small thing, but the amount of scene coverage the editors have to work with makes The Trade look like carefully composed narrative cinema.” — The Hollywood Reporter.

➢➢ “Rather than embed with just one individual or group or take only a drug war framing to the transportation of narcotics, The Trade follows a number of different throughlines … The show doesn’t single out any of these as a primary thread, instead showing how all of their fates are interconnected as the threat of highly addictive illegal drugs continues on its cyclical life cycle. These stories are told with a vérité immediacy that’s disorienting at times and almost uniformly unsettling.” — IndieWire.

➢➢ “Each day, 91 Americans die from an opioid overdose. The five-part docu-series bypasses the didactic timeline of how the US got to this position and instead places the audience in unvarnished scenes of human suffering. It’s an intimate style the director, Matthew Heineman, used in the Oscar-nominated Cartel Land, and it puts a face to people affected by the crisis … But being immersed in the intimacy of these scenes, without narration or historical context, leaves little room to acknowledge the system that has made the opioid crisis a predominantly American problem.” — The Guardian.

➢➢ “The Trade is a reminder that the people who are caught up in this world are only human; it encourages empathy. Much of what is most affecting in The Trade are the small human details — a Christmas tree in a drug dealer’s house, the childhood pictures on a refrigerator door of a son or daughter lost to dope, a police detective rubbing the neck of a frustrated partner. The film is in letter-boxed widescreen for maximum cinematic effect — the photography is handsome without making things too pretty.” — Los Angeles Times.

➢➢ “The Trade depicts the heroin epidemic from a number of fronts, including detectives tracking down traffickers in Columbus, Ohio; poppy growers in Guerrero, Mexico; and a couple of addicts in Atlanta. The footage Heineman and his team obtained is gripping and chilling, particularly as the first episode shows one addict, Skyler, shooting up with his girlfriend in a motel room, a reminder of the powerlessness that users face from their disease.” — Variety.

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