Top positive review
10 people found this helpful
give this film a chance, seriously
on March 29, 2011
I've read the other reviews and while I agree with many of their points I do wonder if maybe I saw a different film from the one that the reviewers are describing? For the new viewers who have yet to decide whether or not to try this one I would strongly suggest that they do so, and with these observations - first, I saw a film about family, several families actually and all dysfunctional yes, but about Family, blood ties, betrayal in one family, tragedy and loss in others. The use of Mexican/US drug wars as a catalyst may have caused some viewers to think that this is a routine gritty crime movie but the writer(s) wanted something epic, life and death, which these ravaging drug wars are, to put the bigger theme of Family into high relief.
As to the casting, I appreciate it whenever actors challenge what they've already done twenty times, so I rather liked the choice that Andy Garcia made in particular, I do not think he was wasted at all. Liotta played his assassin's part almost as a mute - and that too is not an accident or a poor reading on his part, ie. who is his foil? It's the striking Mexican prostitute, her life is the battleground that all the other actors cross over, disrupt, shred, and yet she is the one who communicates to us, the viewer, what Liotta is going through, we understand him through her empathy with him. I think that this film is worth watching just to see how Liotta and Cruz pull it off. The title itself, the "line," is in my opinion, refers not to geography but the line crisscrossing over lives of real people like Cruz, it is her life encapsulated for us to see where the real terror and horror of these drug wars are fought, not some convenient metaphor of a border between countries.
However, of all the cast, and it was a remarkably competent one, the stunner for me had to be Pelon, every second of screen time Esai Morales was riveting, pathetic, tragic, and desperate and in many ways the male parallel of destruction in this environment that we see with Cruz's character. Even Assante's seemingly minor role became the pivot I never saw coming. It never ceases to amaze me how many gears this actor has to work with, be it over the top charm or almost a stunted shell of a man, merely existing on autopilot, he nails the human drama of that life every time.
So, don't view this film as some gritty routine action throwaway, as if it were Dumb and Dumber with guns. There were times when I did wish they had had a different film editor to better layer the many simultaneous story lines so that we wouldn't lose or confuse the underlying theme of Family. Then again, most films that endeavor to be a persuasive emotional and intellectual "experience" and not just a couple hours spent in leisure mode are not one-offs, view once and move on. They become a new film every time you view it, they grow as you do, they reveal details that you missed the first time. They may even change entirely once you do see it from say the perspective of Family or blood feuds or revenge or even exposing the moral decay of a human who no longer has family?
A final thought, any film that attempts to do things differently, from cast to writing, to choices in character development, to cultures too often passed over as one-dimensional, impresses me tremendously. Give this one a look, and let it tell you a story or stories, that you aren't telling the director is the one you want, but the one they want to tell you.