Thursday, April 14, 2016

Movie with Abe: Hostile Cargo

Hostile Cargo
Directed by Michael Dwyer
Released April 15, 2016

Bordering countries in which the quality of life is considered to be highly disparate make for great film subjects. Shows like “The Bridge” and films like “Sicario” have demonstrated the extent to which daily life in the United States and in Mexico just a few miles south look nothing alike, and those with mixed heritage find them themselves in an even more complicated position. “Hostile Border,” whose title speaks for itself, follows an undocumented illegal immigrant who goes from committing crime in America to figuring out how best to survive in Mexico after she is deported.

Claudia (Veronica Sixtos) is the film’s protagonist, a young woman first seen surrounded by computers and credit cards, talking to customer service representatives on the phone reading off different numbers one after another. The opening intertitle defines the word “pocha” as a Mexican who cannot even speak Spanish, hardly a compliment and an unflattering introduction to Claudia and her likelihood of survival when she is quickly caught in a police raid and placed briefly in a detention facility before being bussed back to Mexico. Her cattle rancher father is far less kind or forgiving about her lack of connection to her culture than her grandmother, and Claudia seems far from set for success in her new life.

As the film’s title implies, if Claudia’s life was already seedy and below-the-line in the United States, it has to become much worse in Mexico. It doesn’t take long for her to come face-to-face with Ricky, a smuggler who is taking advantage of his position in a foreign country to exert influence and intimidate those around him into submission. Claudia seemingly cannot pull away from a criminal lifestyle, and the fact that her new friend can freely travel to the United States without any scrutiny is certainly alluring.

There is little positivity to be found in “Hostile Border,” which is described as a “slow burning crime thriller and western,” an accurate description to a degree. This story is a dark and uninspiring one, with a decently compelling main character fighting to return to the relatively miserable lifestyle which she used to have. As a broader symbolic representation of immigration issues and wealth inequality, it’s a worthwhile conversation piece, but unfortunately it’s not nearly as memorable a film in its own right.


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