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Anastasio Samosa Portocarrero
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Robert M. Young
Edward James Olmos,
John E. Coleman
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Robert M. Young
Edward James Olmos,
After his daughter's birth, Roberto leaves his town in Michoacan to make money in the United States. He's "an illegal," crossing into California and taking work wherever he can: picking strawberries, grapes, lettuce, and cucumbers. He hitchhikes, rides freight trains, and depends on the kindness of strangers. Near Stockton, things look up when a sympathetic waitress gives him a place to live, and he gets a better job at a crop-dusting company. But immigration raids are a constant possibility that can end stability. Can Roberto hold onto his equilibrium in this foreign land where hard work is not enough? Written by
It's surprising how "Alambrista!" has slipped into near-total oblivion after being shown at Cannes and receiving some measure of admiration there. But it seems to have never enjoyed a release on VHS, and hasn't appeared on DVD until quite recently. It's a shame, because this film serves as a very piercing, close-up examination of the life of an illegal immigrant.
Robert M. Young has made a number of daring and unusual films in his career, off-center stories with characters most people wouldn't notice. In "Short Eyes" it was a young pedophile in prison, and in "Dominick and Eugene" he focused on the everyday life of a mentally retarded man. Here, he takes a deep trip into the underbelly of American society, a side most of us will never come close to seeing. "Alambrista!" is a basic tale, one that Young penned himself (it was the only film he'd ever both write and direct). It's uncomplicated, but not untrue. There's a familiar 1970s documentary approach, up close and personal, and it serves things well. Also doing his own cinematography, Young is very much in on the action.
Domingo Ambriz plays Roberto, a quiet and not entirely bright Mexican man. He's very kind, but completely innocent of cities and American life. It's a heartfelt performance, and it has to be. Everything hinges on his believability. Linda Gillen is very good as the waitress Sharon, also a rather innocent personality. The characters come almost secondary, because we don't get too far beneath their skin. This isn't an internal, mental film - it's a silent observation of things. Take a close look.
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