Review

Crossing Over Review

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Feb 26, 2009 | 2:42pm EST

Clearly influenced by the 2005 Oscar-winning Crash writer/director Wayne Kramer’s multi-character segmented story focuses on the hot button issue of immigration -- illegal and otherwise -- told from several vantage points. A teenager (Summer Bishil) is targeted as a potential terrorist because of an essay she wrote; a young mother (Alice Braga) fights to keep her child after being deported; an Australian actress (Alice Eve) prostitutes herself to get a green card. We also meet a Korean teen a British musician a Mexican worker and others whose lives and dreams of American citizenship intersect with a group of people working for and closely with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in L.A. Chief among them is Max Brogan (Harrison Ford) a veteran but burnt-out agent not beyond bending the law to uphold the fading ideals that brought him to the job in the first place. Ford is terrific in a low-key but touching portrayal of a man struggling to keep up with a changing world of immigration law clinging to the moral compass that originally got him started. It’s not the kind of starring role we normally see him do but he blends nicely into a superb ensemble of international actors. Ray Liotta is rather effective as a hapless applications manager willing to risk his career and marriage to an immigration defense attorney (an understated Ashley Judd) for a sordid affair with an Australian actress played by the sultry Eve. This aggressive bimbo is cheating on her likeable British boyfriend sweetly played by Jim Sturgess (21) as both try desperately to get a green card in equally unethical ways. Other standouts in the large cast include Bishil as a young suspected terrorist and the wonderful Braga as an illegal Mexican factory worker trying to hang on to her son. Kramer’s in-your-face vivid directorial style has served him well in the critically acclaimed The Cooler and even his over-the-top but entertaining second film Running Scared. With Crossing Over he generally tones it down to tell a tricky multi-level story in which he tries to juggle several characters constantly merging in and out of the film. If it’s not ultimately as successful as Crash this storytelling technique is in many ways just as effective due to the subject matter. Kramer a South African became a naturalized American citizen himself in 2000 and knows this scenario all too well. He paints us a picture people caught up in this fast changing world of immigration and using any means to keep their dreams alive against long odds.

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