Immigration is a hot button topic lately all over the world. A film like this is timely. Especially since it deals with the United States and Mexico and illegal immigrants from Mexico trying to eke out a living in the U.S. The subject matter here is controversial to say the least, but must be discussed/investigated.
Because it is told from a different perspective it asks the viewer to re-examine how they feel about the issue. Something has to be done to solve this particular problem in the most humane way. There are Mexicans who have been born in the United States, don’t even speak Spanish and because they aren’t “legal” in the U.S. are deported back to Mexico. A country in which they have never lived and is foreign to them. Seems to me they are being put in a dangerous situation where they will try to get back to the U.S. through any means possible. Even dangerous ones.
The issue has been going on for years…even decades and is a complex one. Just like that issue the way the viewer feels about the lead character is not simple. Do you like her? Is she a spoiled brat who only thinks of herself? Does she have a functional moral compass? Do you want her to stay in Mexico with her father or return to the United States with her mother? Rather than take sides on the issue what I like about Michael Dwyer’s (first feature film) film is that it just tells the story of Claudia rather than sit in judgment or come out on one side of the issue or the other.
Claudia (Veronica Sixtos – Quinceanera) lives with her mother (Sandra Santiago) illegally in the United States. She was born in the U.S., but is not a legal citizen. Because like all other young people her age she wants to buy things and make a lot of money Claudia works at a credit card fraud operation. Finally it catches up to her and she is caught by the FBI and deported back to Mexico.
She goes to live with her father, Andres (Julio Cedillo – Sicario, Cowboys & Aliens), who owns a cattle ranch and whom she does not know at all. He has no intention on making life easy for his daughter and puts her to work doing manual labour around the ranch. The whole time Claudia is thinking of a way to get back to the U.S.
Soon Claudia gets mixed up with Ricky (Roberto Urbina – from television’s Narcos), a smuggler. She begins helping him smuggle his stuff through her father’s land. She is doing this as he has promised to help her get back across the border. This is a dangerous game she is playing and is putting at risk not only her own life, but that of her father and grandmother.
Despite its low budget the film is shot in a beautiful way with great cinematography. The way it looks is complimented by its morose score. They work together to create the mood of the film. The cast is all strong and don’t reduce their characters to mere caricatures. There are nuances and suspense in the story.
-Previews of Hyena Road, Identicals, East Side Sushi