|FRONTERA (director/writer: Michael Berry; screenwriter: Louis Moulinet III; cinematographer: Joel Ransom; editor: Larry Madaras; music: Kenneth Lampl/Darren Tate; cast: Ed Harris (Roy), Michael Peña (Miguel), Eva Longoria (Paulina), Amy Madigan (Olivia), Aden Young (Sheriff Randall Hunt), Michael Ray Escamilla (Jose), (Seth Adkins (Sean), Evan Adrian (Brad), Tony Ford (Kevin), Julio Cesar Cedillo (Coyote); Runtime: 103; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Mike Witherill/William V. Andrew/Alex Witherill; Magnolia Pictures; 2014-USA-in English & Spanish, with English subtitles when necessary)|
does not measure up as an issue-oriented
by Dennis Schwartz
directorial debut of Michael Berry is misguided in
this perplexing border-crossing modern-day western
drama. It has flashes of relevance but shoots itself
in the foot with a misplaced climax of convenient pat
answers for the illegal problem. Berry co-writes with
Louis Moulinet III.
small border town in Arizona, Olivia (Amy
Madigan) and her retired sheriff hubby
Roy (Ed Harris) live on a ranch that's
the site where many illegals try crossing the border.
day, the good-hearted family man Miguel (Michael
Pena) is guided by a lazy, irresponsible
stranger named Jose (Michael Ray Escamilla) to make
the illegal desert border-crossing, on the
ranch property of Roy, so he can find work to
support his pregnant Mexican wife Paulina
(Eva Longoria, in a de-glamorized
role). A trio (Seth Adkins, Evan
Adrian and Tony Ford) of vacuous, macho-acting
white teens, one of them the current sheriff's son,
while hunting, accidentally kill the sympathetic to
the illegals Olivia. One of the teens shoots off a
rifle to warn the illegals not to cross the
border. As a result, Olivia's horse is spooked
and she's fatally thrown. The current sheriff,
Randall Hunt (Aden Young), incompetently handles
the investigation, avoiding investigating his son's
part in the death, and Miguel is framed for the murder
when he's arrested at the site while holding the reins
of Olivia's horse. The other illegal fled. The vic's
grief-stricken husband helps the sheriff investigate.
Meanwhile Miguel's wife is left in a state of shock
when she can't communicate with her missing hubby, and
decides to try with the aid of a predatory coyote (Julio
Cesar Cedillo) to find her hubby in the
States. That leads to further suffering for the
sympathetic victimized immigrant.
by an inexperienced filmmaker, the melodrama fails to
say something meaningful about the real-life crisis on
America's western borders without sounding too
simplistic. It moves into absurd territory in the
third act, as the slightly bigoted Roy discovers the
truth and demands that the unfortunate Miguel
help him to repair his cut fence so his fellow Mexican
illegals will be kept out and thereby his
wife's death supposedly wouldn't be in vain.
does not measure up as an issue-oriented film. It's
saddled with a tiresome moralistic story about
tolerance, an unconvincing Crash-like story of
coincidences, and it doesn't credibly address
the current hot-button immigration issue it builds the
Incidentally, the far superior John Sayles’ Lone Star (1996) was set in a town called Frontera.
REVIEWED ON 11/22/2014 GRADE: C
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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