18 January 2013 2:53 AM, PST | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Sundance opener documentary about a migrant worker found dead in the Arizona desert is a touching, if slightly moralistic, tale

This time last year Sundance kicked off with two very popular documentaries, Searching for Sugar Man and The Queen of Versailles – both, in their way, unlikely redemption stories for recessionary times. The first of the 2013 batch, however, began the festival in a less crowd-pleasing fashion. Though well-intentioned, well-crafted and sometimes breathtakingly beautiful in its cityscapes, Marc Silver's Who Is Dayani Cristal? seems like a step backwards towards the more didactic, moralistic docs of old, leaving little for viewers to deduce or feel for themselves.

In structure, the film does break with the old-school talking-heads model, using reconstruction and fictional flourishes in the style of Bart Layton's The Imposter (or, more pertinently, Carol Morley's Dreams of a Life), to investigate the life of a migrant worker found dead in the Arizona desert. »

- Damon Wise

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