#NewsBytesRecommends: 'The Trader' on Netflix—crushing tale of despondent gloom
The Trader, a 2018 short film/documentary streaming on Netflix, captures the story of a town mercilessly crushed under the perils of poverty. In this pathos-dominated place, there's little to no reason for the villagers to be happy—their ambition having been buried under the furrows of potatoes that stretch for kilometers on end. Here's why the Tamta Gabrichidze directorial deserves a spot on your watchlist.
The titular trader sells dreams in this desolate town
The 23-minute-long short film follows the titular trader Gela, who frequently visits a desolate Georgian town cut off from the rest of the world. Potatoes are the sole "currency" of this town, and the dwellers have only known soul-crushing penury all their lives. The trader sells everyday utilities, clothes, and by extension, dreams, and his van promises magic, amusement, and happiness, even if short-lived.
Lack of sunshine in town translates to lack of optimism
One of the first aspects we notice is the sheer lack of sunshine that envelops the town. It complements the town's spirit tragically well—the shots capture the villagers' life in all its honesty; there is no sunshine, no warmth, and the clouds of pessimism and despondency never disappear. For some, the light at the end of the tunnel is only figurative, never literal.
The titular trader acts like the pied piper
An interesting metaphor that struck me while watching the film is the trader's role in the film. He is almost like a modern-day pied piper, capable of wooing the villagers through the sound of his van's siren and luring them out of town. The villagers are so knee-deep in poverty that they haven't ever seen such allure staring them right in the eye.
Pivotal scenes put things into perspective
In a pivotal scene, a young boy fails to answer his dream job—poverty has been his only companion, and the prospects of a better life never crossed his mind. In another scene, an old woman yearns for a grater but can't afford six kilos of potatoes and returns home crestfallen. Hers isn't the only heart that breaks as misery is plastered across the screen.
Perhaps an upsetting yet poignant watch
The Trader is one of those cinematic offerings where one pauses, sits back, and heaves a deep breath to process the desolation that just punched them in the gut. The Sundance Short Film Jury Award-winning documentary helps one keep their privilege in check and facilitates exposure to a world we hitherto didn't know about. The Trader can be upsetting but is an important watch.