Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Crossing Over: Grade C

Crossing Over (2009)
Harrison Ford, Ashley Judd, Ray Liotta, Jim Sturgess, Alice Shepard; Writer-Director Wayne Kramer.

Good plotting saves this familiar story of illegal immigrants trying to make a life in southern California. We’ve seen it all before: the immigrants are hard-working family people, but the nasty ICE keeps snooping around, deporting people, separating mothers from children, breaking up families, ruining lives, etc., etc. This edition of the story has a few variations that make it better than a mere rehash. Liotta is a crooked immigration bureaucrat who exchanges sex with a cute Aussie illegal (Shepard) for a green card; Ford is a way-past-retirement street officer who takes the trouble to return the child of a deported mom to the grandparents in Tijuana, and he also manages to solve a murder case involving an illegal muslim family. The film tries to represent the immigration authorities sympathetically. They are not uncaring bigots but sensitive officials and ordinary human beings just doing their jobs. It also tries to air brush the fact that the vast majority of immigrants to the US are Mexican. It does this by presenting a (non-random) “sample” of immigration stories including an Israeli, an Aussie, a Kenyan, a Korean family, and several Iranians, along with one Mexican family. However, Mexican immigrants constitute about 25% of all immigrants, while the next closest ethnic group is Chinese, at 5%. Why the film would attempt to distort these facts is unknown. Perhaps it was simply to introduce variety for entertainment value, but the political agenda of the movie suggests otherwise. Overall then, the film is mildly interesting with a bland but confused political message, some familiar actors but only mediocre acting and directing, and stereotypical characters. However clever mini-plots keep you just connected enough for its two-hour anthology of cases to be shown.

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