Like many forms of artistic expression movies reflect the attitudes and concerns of the population that serves as its audience. The aspirations and fears of the audience are frequently found as plot lines of films released to the popular media. In effect film has become a modern Vox Populi. The usual way this phenomenon is expressed is referring to it with the phrase ‘ripped from the headiness’. This is just another way of saying a headline in the evening news has become the tagline for the movie. There is a constant stream of such movies each one taking a hotly contested political topic or something that has caught the attention of the public. On the current American political scene is that of illegal immigration. On one side there are those that remind the public that we are a nation of immigrants; the majority of citizens need only go back a few generations to find some relative freshly arrived in this country. The proponents of the opposing side offer the position that the resources of this country; employment, heath care and education, are in high demand and dwindling supply. They fear that the huge influx of people illegally entering our borders is stressing the system leading to an inevitable collapse. Among the latest offerings to expound upon this topic is ‘Border Run’. Featuring a cast of familiar names the movie although the film is less than the sum total of its parts. It is difficult for such a topical movie to succeed. The natural inclination is for the filmmaker to select a perspective to manifest; a point of view to champion. This will understandably alienate the portion of the audience committed to the opposing view point. Creating a divisive feeling in the audience can frequently create a buzz that can translate into box office revenues. It can also prevent the elements of the movie from properly blending resulting in disjointed narrative and poorly paced movie. Controversy can only go so far, at some point there has to be a certain level of technique and artistic veracity serving as a solid foundation of the piece.
The filmmaker, Gabriela Tagliavini is facing a difficult career path as a Latina director. To her credit she is not taking the easiest pathway. Rather than creating a stream of rom-coms of other faire some might consider better fir a woman starting off in this craft. Some of her early films were light hearted but she appears to be making a concerted effort to move in a serious direction. The film Ms Tagliavini made just before this one was ‘Without Men’, s hard hitting movie about the lives of a village consisting of women; men conscripted by military Communist guerrillas. Her current focus is the plight of Hispanic women south of the United States border. This is a laudable ambition; one that should be commended. With a radical paradigm shift from comedy to political awareness is arduous at best representing a significant redefinition of her burgeoning style. It seems that she gained some practical experience and a reputation as a new filmmaker with several comedies in succession. Was this basis was made she took the daring move of branching out into a completely different aspect of artistic endeavor. Such a new direction requires a period of adjustment and stylistic redefinition. With take taken into consideration it must be noted she is firmly on the right track.
The events depicted in ‘Border Run’ are presented as based on true events. With the millions of people crossing our borders what is shown occurring here has to have some basis in reality. How accurately it depicts the facts of a particular set of individual’s remains to be seen and should be taken with appropriate trepidation. What is important here is the essence of the story clearly reflects the important issues at the core of this controversy. Sofie (Sharon Stone) is an American Journalist gaining notoriety through a series of articles on covering alleged hypocrisy within the conservation faction of the United States. Her targets supposedly champion hot button political issues, such as illegal immigration in public while covertly attempting to derail the cause. One of her most recent targets is a prominent U.S. Senator she accuses of being a secret liberal supporter. While on the phone with her brother, Aaron (Billy Zane) she is shocked at what she heard who is in the process of crossing the border with a group of migrants. While on the call she hears gunshots in the background just before the call was dropped to the shocking sound of gun fire. Sophia rushes to the region the border crossing occurred in a desperate mission to uncover what happened to her brother.
The dichotomy between the political platforms is visualized by setting siblings on opposites of the issues. She is a right wing advocate pulling liberal sympathizers into the scrutiny of public opinion while he is a relief worker caring for the rights of the human beings caught in this geo-political struggle. This provides sufficient foundation to permit some of the other characters to play their requisite roles over the top. A prime example is Juanita, portrayed by Giovanna Zacaría, a real native of Mexico. Her part is as a crude lesbian trafficker with psychotic behavior patterns. She has a perchance for thrusting her hand down the pant of hopeful immigrants usually accompanied by a crudely offensive remark. The effect gained here is to further repulse the audience reaffirming the faction to hate is neither the left nor right here but the heartless individuals targeted the real victims, huddled masses yearning for peace and a productive life.
Ms Tagliavini is on her way to successfully rebranding herself and a significant part of that process is returning to discovering her stylistic identity. I’ve seen ‘Without Men’ and found it quite impressive from the point of view of as strong narrative and solid presentation. The same holds true here despite the need of smoothing off the rough edges. I greatly look forward to following her career as it progresses; not only as an example of striking out in a new direction but as an exciting talent coming into its own.