A lot of movies about illegal immigration talk about why people come to the United States and what their lives are like here. Very few chronicle the actual journey, and fewer still detail passage over the sea like this movie about Dominican immigrants sailing to Puerto Rico on a rickety yola.
This movie is about cause and effect. Have you ever gone somewhere or said something without thinking through all of the consequences, and suddenly found yourself out of control? In the hands of a stranger, without the ability to ensure or take charge of your own safety? That is what this movie is about. The choices we make, whether for noble reasons or selfish reasons, and the places we end up because of those choices.
I like the fact that the movie is clear about who are the bad guys and who are the good guys, but still you come out of it understanding that everyone is in charge of their own destinies here. There are bad choices and there are better choices. I work in the immigration field for a living so I've seen a lot of movies about immigrants, and this is one of the few that doesn't over-romanticize the decision to be an immigrant. Sure, there is the standard melodrama that you often see in immigration movies about the sadness of leaving loved ones behind, but this movie shows immigrants as regular people, not immigrants as "terrorists" or immigrants as "martyrs," the two portrayals we see most often in popular culture.
There are uncomfortable scenes, there are beautiful scenes, there are sad scenes and also some happy scenes. There is a level of grotesqueness to some of the scenes that children should not see or they will have nightmares. Don't expect a blockbuster Hollywood action film, but do expect a very human and realistic portrayal of the lives of a couple dozen Dominicans.
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