Desierto

Written and directed by Jonás Cuarón and produced by his father Alfonso Cuarón best known for directing 2013’s Gravity, Desierto is a thriller movie with a rather unusual twist of having an indirect yet unsubtle undercurrent of immigration politics. It revolves around a group of undocumented immigrants who attempt to cross the border into the United States but encounter an unexpected sinister obstacle. After their smugglers’ truck breaks down in the Mexican desert, the fourteen migrants are forced to take the treacherous trek through the desert while avoiding the Border Patrol. Once they have just crossed into America, all of a sudden, shots ring out and several immigrants in the group are gunned down. The shooter turns out to be a psychotic racist, played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who takes matters into his own hands by systematically hunting down undocumented immigrants as if they are animals. Eventually, the survivors are led by a man, portrayed by Gael García Bernal, desperately trying to return to his family in California. The film is basically one long chase scene between Morgan’s character with his vicious hunting dog named Tracker and the random unarmed men and women he feels justified murdering in cold blood. Although extremely exaggerated, Morgan’s character represents the staunchly xenophobic anti-immigrant fringe element in American society. He does not see the migrants as humans simply striving for a better life but rather as stray animals who must be put down. However, poetic justice is served at the end when the tables are finally turned on Morgan’s character. The film is especially timely given the fact that anti-immigrant rhetoric is at a all time high during this particularly divisive election season. Overall, I found the best part of the movie was its atypical and thought-provoking premise regarding such sensitive issues as immigration and racism. It did provide an adequate amount of simple thrills to create a sense of terror for unsuspecting people on an already perilous journey. 

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