Border Run (2013) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
28Feb/130

Border Run (2013)

Morning burialAndrew LIKE BannerThis is the second time this week my preconceived notion of what a film should be has been smashed.

I was surprised yesterday but not challenged.  Now I've watched a film that simultaneously embodies the stereotype of Hollywood only looking out for the left-wing while offering the simplest and most effective rebuke to that idea.  Here's a film that looks at people suffering and puts a character, fully-realized no matter how flimsy she may seem, right at the center and asks us to feel the same pain.  Sometimes it's better to stand back and regard, but here there is a deliberate attempt to engage the stereotype that's become reality with a fictionalized narrative that needs to disappear.

Instead we have a film about strong-willed people who are against all illegal immigrants in the country and asks that they simply confront the truth of suffering.  It's done by forcing us to experience the struggle in a physical way.  There are moments where the character conflicts and decisions that are made seem to make little sense.  The reality is I already don't understand that casual bigotry in my day to day life, at least the fictional version here tries to offer reasons and illuminate a problem that seems to have no clear answer.

Here's another easy and safe jaunt over the border to the land of opportunity.

Here's another easy and safe jaunt over the border to the land of opportunity.

Part of what makes Border Run so great is that an answer is at least attempted at the end with some degree of grace.  If you look past the imagery and soundtrack it is simplistic and cheesy.  It's also the hardest path for any of the characters to take when no other routes apply.  I almost hope that people go into the film more open-minded than myself but, at the same time, I couldn't have been nearly as surprised if the "right-wing journalist on a journey of revenge" synopsis didn't exactly set up great expectations.

Those low expectations were barely met in the first ten minutes.  Sofie (Sharon Stone) is a right-wing pundit dedicated to exposing closet lefties for a network that deems itself fair and balanced.  I don't like propped up stereotypes to the left or the right so these opening scenes of her setting up ambush questions and talking with dedicated smugness did not sit well with me.  Neither did the opening conceit of a stranger, who turns out to be her brother (Billy Zane), crossing the border with some migrants just as Sofie is calling and hears him being shot by an unknown third party.

That's when she crosses the border on a mission to find out what happened to her brother.  For a while the film is dully setting up it's pieces, but after a huge leap of faith on both Sofie and the creators' part the momentum builds in a huge way.  Director Gabriela Tagliavini forces us to go through the physical torment of getting into the land of the free with all the humiliation and pain that shouldn't imply.  We're cramped into dirty trucks, stored in outhouses that have fallen into disrepair, and beaten repeatedly.  All the while we see bits of hope drift in, a bit of red or blue here and there, just enough to keep everyone going until the bottom drops.

There are still parts I'm conflicted about, but that's more because they are presented so directly.  With a lighter touch they're easily ignored as subtle drama.  Here it's the horror violence should be.

There are still parts I'm conflicted about, but that's more because they are presented so directly. With a lighter touch they're easily ignored as subtle drama. Here it's the horror violence should be.

What she does is something a lot of directors do not seem to realize is important.  She infuses her visual style with a philosophy her characters are trying to reach.  The painful irony for both the migrants and Sofie is that the idealized America that they both worship so much is out of reach.  When we see the idealistic husband and wife, expecting a child, we're primed to accept their fate based on so many disaster movies before them.  They're supposed to make it out and face the new world as a humbled if loving family.

Tagliavini floats along with the camera even when it descends into a nightmare.  The grit and dust, no matter how thoroughly caked on, is lit just strangely enough to seem unreal.  Even when tragedy finally strikes everyone with the couple facing the death of an ideal and Sofie the invulnerability of America.  Then there's enough distance to think it but a dream until the end.  That final shot amazed me with its implications of the most obvious solution - the best way to deal with these problems is to live right alongside them openly and honestly, not exile them.

I wasn't expecting that.  Honestly I wasn't expecting much because Sharon Stone thrillers haven't had the best track record for over twenty years and there are still plenty of problems with this one.  But I long for the unexpected and here it is - revel in it should you choose.

Border Run - TailBorder Run (2013)
Directed by Gabriela Tagliavini.
Screenplay written by Don Fiebiger and Amy Kolquist.
Starring Sharon Stone.

Posted by Andrew

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