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Immigrants from around the world enter Los Angeles every day, with hopeful visions of a better life, but little notion of what that life may cost. Their desperate scenarios test the humanity of immigration enforcement officers. In Crossing Over, writer-director Wayne Kramer explores the allure of the American dream, and the reality that immigrants find - and create -- in 21st century L.A.Kramer's intersecting stories, both cathartic and tragic, are brought to life by an international ensemble.
The director of The Cooler tries a bigger canvas: Crossing Over is Wayne Kramer's take on nothing less than the vast subject of illegal immigration, coming at the topic from a dozen or so directions. Hefting the most star power is Harrison Ford, scurrying about as an L.A. Immigration and Customs officer whose conscience is sore from having trundled so many illegals back over the border--now he's worried about the child of a particularly vulnerable woman (Alice Braga). Cliff Curtis plays Ford's partner, an Iranian-American whose family is not as assimilated as his casual manner might suggest. There's a bit of pulp swagger in other sections of the picture, as Kramer tries to channel his inner Sam Fuller: for instance, an Immigration official (Ray Liotta at his piggiest) coerces an Australian actress (Alice Eve) into a sex-for-green-card affair, and an adolescent Arab-American girl (Summer Bishil, from Towelhead) gives a cheeky speech at school that puts her family under suspicion as possible terrorists. Other strands of this scenario aren't as urgent, as Ashley Judd dreams of adopting the African child she's tending, and Jim Sturgess (Across the Universe), as a British non-believer, tries to convince Immigration authorities of his commitment to working at a Jewish school. The movie's single best scene has him "auditioning" to convince a rabbi of his commitment to Judaism, a funny moment that also carries an echo of the history of Jewish exodus. The movie has a tendency to bash from one thing to the next, too neatly connecting its Crash-like plotlines, like a really spirited first draft of a better movie. --Robert Horton
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Top customer reviews
Harrison Ford plays a senior ICE supervisor who does raids on sweatshops in CA. He does his best to do the right thing. Sometimes, doing the right thing is not altogether congruent with the letter of the law. Such is life in the ambiguous field of illegal immigration. With the contentious nature & vitriolic rhetoric offered by politicians, it is sometimes difficult to recall to mind that immigration is not just about statistics. For every statistic there is a human being behind the statistic. Sometimes they are as reprehensible as the far right would have us believe. Other times they are as sympathetic as the far left would have us believe. The truth is somewhere in the middle.
On a lighter note, many people may have an interest in the present movie for the same reason I did: it is the one movie where the stunning Alice Eve strips down! She is actually topless 3X during the film. While she has a bit part, she is unmistakable & this film as a building block towards bigger & better things. Way to go Alice!!
Ultimately, this film reminded me a bit of Crash (Widescreen Edition) in that it is not a conventional movie. Like CRASH, it is several disparate storylines which are cobbled together into a narrative that inquires into the whole illegal immigration question. While there are people who have no business being in the U.S., there are also individuals who take advantage of helpless persons who are in dire straits. This includes people in both the public & private sectors. So, on that count, this is a thought-provoking movie about a topic that is anything but black & white.
For entertainment value 4 stars.
For dealing with a very difficult topic with intelligence and very real characters 5 stars.
Difficult subject to tackle.