No Man's Land

  • 13 Feb - 19 Feb, 2021
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Reviews

Even in his pathetic last days, Donald Trump found time to take a trip to the Texas border to check on his wall. His journey only confirms the relevance of the new IFC movie, No Man’s Land, which examines some of the human consequences of the divisiveness regarding immigration. The film tells a simple but poignant story of two families caught up in this conflict.

The film begins in the no-man’s-land of the title, an area between the Rio Grande and border walls and fences. The Greer family has a ranch there, and they are disdainful of immigrants who use their land to try to cross from Mexico to the United States. As tensions rise, an illegal crossing one night leads to a confrontation that results in the shooting of one of the family’s sons and the fatal shooting of a young Mexican boy. The boy’s killer, Jackson (Jake Allyn), decides to flee across the Rio Grande, where he has a variety of encounters with Mexicans that complicate the prejudices ingrained in him. At the same time, the father of the murdered Mexican boy pursues Jackson to take his revenge.

The rapprochement that occurs at the end of the film is not exactly a surprise, and there are contrivances, like Jackson’s arrival in the city of Guanajuato just as his victim’s funeral is about to take place. But strong performances and astute direction help to compensate for simplifications in the script. Allyn is an engaging camera presence, and he underplays effectively. Some of the other performances are even stronger. Veteran George Lopez, playing a Texas Ranger who speaks no Spanish, gives an enormously engaging performance. Jorge A. Jimenez as the father of the murdered boy seethes with believable anger and anguish. As the villainous coyote who helped to provoke the shootout, Andres Delgado makes a chilling antagonist.

Cinematographer Juan Pablo Ramirez makes an important contribution in capturing the contrasting desolation and warmth of the varied Mexican locations. The haunting score by Will Blair, Brooke Blair and Andrea Gonzalez Caballero adds to the film’s impact. The movie probably runs on a little too long considering the lack of complexity in the script, but it achieves moments of pathos that speak eloquently to our present mood of discord, tempered with a tentative hope of reconciliation.

– Compilation