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Crossing Over is a multi-character canvas about immigrants of different nationalities struggling to achieve legal status in Los Angeles. The film deals with the border, document fraud, the asylum and green card process, work-site enforcement, naturalization, the office of counter terrorism and the clash of cultures. Written by
Near the beginning of the movie, there is a scene where Harrison Ford's character is booking a prisoner into a detention center for illegal immigrants. In this scene the booking officer is incorrectly wearing the uniform of a CBP Enforcement Officer instead of an ICE Immigration Enforcement Agent. See more »
What do you want me to do?
San Pedro ICE Processing Agent:
Look, it's not my problem.
All I'm asking, Stevens, is did the old man get seen to? He was sweating and shaking when I put him on the bus. He said his arm felt numb.
San Pedro ICE Processing Agent:
Jesus Christ, Brogan, everything is a humanitarian crisis with you. You've signed off on more orders of recognizance than the rest of your unit combined.
Don't give me that shit. The man's about to have a goddamn heart attack. I want him seen to.
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Unlike Crash, another recent disparate-people-dealing-with-a-sociological-issue movie, Crossing Over is poignant, stirring, and rousing, capturing what must be the wrenching experience of being an immigrant, legal or otherwise, in the United States. Led by Harrison Ford, the ensemble cast touches all the bases. Although the movie can be very difficult to watch at times, owing to its subject matter, it's a tough-minded look at the often-tragic issue of immigration.
Ford plays Max Brogan, an INS agent stationed in Los Angeles, who decides to help an illegal textile worker (Alice Braga) by making sure that the woman's son is taken to his grandmother (the woman's mother) in Mexico when the woman is detained. Meanwhile, Max's partner Hamid Baraheri (Cliff Curtis), struggles to reconcile his job with the culture of his family (Iranian) and the reckless behavior of his younger sister. Ray Liotta plays Cole Frankel, an adjudicator who determines the status of immigrants and their green cards; Alice Eve is an aspiring Australian actress who has to degrade herself to lengthen her stay in the country; Ashley Judd plays Liotta's wife, who defends immigrants in status cases. In a parallel storyline, a young Korean youth, days before his family's naturalization ceremony, makes a decision that could have terrible consequences.
All of these story lines are intricately intertwined, but here's where the movie differs from Crash: the interactions of the various characters never feel forced or insincere, and the characters themselves are not simple good people doing bad things or bad people doing good things.
The acting is uniformly grand. Ford, who rarely plays nonhero roles let alone supporting roles, is excellent as the crusty, world-weary agent, trying desperately to solve a serious crime that may hit close to home while also doing the right thing by the young textile-worker mother. Also shining is Judd (and, to a lesser extent, Liotta, although he plays the same character in many of his movies now - a slimeball), but really sealing the deal is Curtis (10,000 BC, Sunshine) as the conflicted agent of Iranian descent.
Like the issue of immigration itself, the movie is complicated, almost detrimentally so, but the conflict should certainly resonate with its audience, even if one is not an immigrant or part of a family that has recently immigrated. Certain scenes are almost deadly with their pathos, figuratively rending your heart as they play out. Emotionally gripping scenes such as these (particularly near the end of the film) exemplify precisely the kind of psychological gymnastics that a director must undertake for a film like this to have any sort of positive effect on its audience. That is, the entire issue of immigration is fraught with anger, deceit, terror, and sadness, and it can be tricky to walk the line between one feeling or another, lest one be accused of bias.
Crossing Over falls into none of the traps that Crash fell into. Its character-driven storyline is brimming with plausible conflict that eclipses the usual cops-and-illegals pastiche, choosing instead to deal with problems on a more individual level. The result is an honest, illuminating look at a sometimes-vexing subject, although it is clearly not for all tastes.
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