Hostile Border Review - Sharp, Edgy, Courageous

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Hostile Border, from Samuel Goldwyn, brings to the screen a sharp, edgy drama of contemporary life for a Mexican rancher and his Pocha daughter after her criminal life in the U.S. is busted and she is deported.

Directed by Michael Dwyer, Hostile Border stars Veronica Sixtos as Claudia, Julio Cedillo as Andres, Roberto Urbina as Ricky, Jorge A. Jimenez as Arturo, Jesse Garcia as Lecho and Maria del Carmen Farias as Lita.

Hostile Border begins with Claudia, played by Veronica Sixtos working two computers, two cell phones, running a list of credit cards, ordering from home shopping networks. The criminal enterprise seems to be a family business as her mother, Inez, played by Sandra Santiago and her boyfriend, Roger, played by Jeff Chassler are working a different scam in the next room.

The evening is spent with Claudia picking up credit cards in an extensive scam worked out with the bartenders who place a set of credit cards in the ladies’ room and circa The Godfather gun in the restroom scene, Claudia finds the container hidden. Obviously an expert she loads the cards on her phone with one swipe.

The cards return to the containers and back to the hiding place to be picked up by the bartenders and returned to unsuspecting customers.

On the last run, she is caught and given the option of deportation without jail time or a guilty plea a U.S. prison and then deportation.

A border guard pushes the steel turnstile gate and with one revolution, Claudia, an English only Mexican raised in the United States or pocha to the locals, is returned to her “native” country unable to communicate, penniless with only the address of her father, Andres, played by Julio Cesar Cedillo, as her options.

With a little help she makes it to the ranch that Andres works with the help of local ranch hands from dawn to dusk. The substantial acreage is captured well as the camera pans the empty desert landscape.

Claudia, unable to speak Spanish, is stuck and she is quickly becoming aware that whatever her goals are she is severely limited. Her Grandmother, Lita, played by Maria del Carmen Farias, is unable to speak English and is constantly trying to get the two, father and daughter, to reconcile the differences that time embedded in each other’s soul and move forward. Her effort endears her.

Finally, her father explains she has to start helping on the ranch instead of sleeping, painting her nails and generally just silently voicing her disgust at her situation. She begins to work with Arturo, the ranch hand, who speaks English.

The two are fixing fence posts when he bolts for the hills, suddenly all hell is breaking loose as Claudia tries to escape from the unknown attacker who is ramming their truck to stop her, pulling her out of the truck, the unknown executioner points waiting orders.

Without knowing, prior to any dialogue, one can determine the executioner is awaiting instructions from the local drug lord. As it turns out mild, mannered Arturo worked for Ricky, played by Roberto Urbina and he forgot where his loyalty lies when enlisted as a helper with drug kingpins.

The day ends with Claudia assuring Ricky she knows the ranch and can help, essentially she is begging for her life.

Soon she is her father’s helper and learns the ranch and all the tools to keep it active and running. She begins nighttime runs guiding the smugglers across the ranch. Her relationships now are in survival mode and instinctually seducing the local kingpin provides the potential of covertly gathering information.

Claudia, with all her faults, finds a way to save herself, and her family from Ricky and his thugs on both sides of the border and the encroaching drug wars.

Hostile Border is not the usual South of the Border Mexican drug smuggling film. It is a gritty portrayal of local life and the inner struggles of those who are trying to remain disassociated with the drug life and retain the culture of a different time. Seducing the locals with exorbitant amounts of U.S. dollars for the smallest infractions creates a different type of dependency.  

Hostile Border is solid. As an indie film, it is sharply made, with strong convincing and courageous performances.  The cast may not be as well known to American audiences as they are in their homeland and together they have created true, credible and compelling performances.

Hostile Border is worth seeing and opens April 15, 2016 in select cities. 

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