Desierto

Starring: Gael Garcia Bernal, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Alondra Hidalgo
Directed By: Jonas Cuaron

Plot: A bunch of Mexican immigrants, notably Moises (Bernal) are hunted by a sniper (Morgan) after crossing into the US. So much for the land of opportunity.

What Works: I feel like this film is timely, which helps it. It fits into the current conversation. Morgan gives another good performance as a bad guy, but not quite as prolific as his portrayal of Negan on The Walking Dead. He’s by far the most interesting character, as the group of Mexicans are given little to no character development.

What Doesn’t Work: The majority are picked off in the first sniper sequence, and we’re left with a handful. These characters could literally be described as “the fat one”, “the girl”, “the leader”, “Gael Garcia Bernal”, and “random guy clearly going to die next”. When your character development is basically broken down to physical traits, or the only thing we know about the character, we have a bad script. We know so little about these characters and why they want to come to America, it makes it hard for me to care about them when the die. I mean, any loss of life is tragic, but in a movie there has to be weight behind some deaths. I was OK with the first wave being a bunch of unknowns, but the five left remaining, we should have known more about. Gael Garcia Bernal has the most character development as later in the movie he gets to tell a story about his life, and how he has a son. That’s about as deep as this film gets. Because this film was cast and structured to be only two recognizable actors, I was never really in suspense as to what was going to happen. I always believed Bernal would survive, and somehow defeat Morgan. So because this film failed to flesh out any other character than Bernal, I assumed everyone else was just bait leading to a 1-v-1 showdow.

Final Word: I had wanted to see this film for a while. I was hoping Jonas Cuaron would be like his brother and be a fantastic voice in directing. He’s not. This film doesn’t really work, and is a better example of what not to do, than what to do. By marginalizing his characters, he marginalized his film.

Final Grade: C-

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