|'You wonder if, upon showing this to a Trump supporter, they would sympathise with murderous psychopath Sam, or wants-to-look-after-his-family Moises. Unfortunately, I suspect we know the answer.'|
The argument that all film is political can be discussed at length for a long time. The argument around whether Desierto is political is cut and dried. This is a film about the treatment of immigrants into the United States, which takes the reaction of the political right and extends it further, crafting in the process an occasionally chilling Thriller. The film certainly succeeds in emphasising the coldness and inhumanity of looking at one's fellow man in need and deciding that it would be better to send them to their doom.
It's a shame that with such politics of substance, it's also not very good. Directed by Jonás Cuarón and presented as 'from the visionary filmmakers that brought you Gravity', Desierto is without tension for far too long. That fact is mainly accrued by the ultra-patient opening, something which lasts far too long for a film which lasts only eighty-eight minutes. It should be tight and sparse, but instead it often feels languid and empty.
The plot consists of Jeffrey Dean Morgan's racist Arizonian chasing a band of Mexican immigrants around the desert, with Gael García Bernal the most prominent of the Mexican characters. Supplementary information is thin but can be found. Morgan's character, for example, keeps up the values of the right to a 't'. Despite a perceived desire for enforcement and order he is visibly sceptical of a police office he encounters, presumably personifying the security and establishment the right does such a good of convincing people it despises. Sam (Morgan) decides to take matters into his own hands in a scene that jumps the film into action. It should be shocking, but it's directed flaccidly and the action starts with rather a whimper.
Desierto then proceeds to fall into several obvious genre traps, as it winds its way to an uninspiring close. A teddy bear which makes noise is shown very early doors, signifying immediately that at some point it will make noise inappropriately. How that made it past the first draft in a film by 'visionary filmmakers' is something to ponder on. The finale calls to mind a Naked Gun scene during which Frank Drebin shoots at a suspect and vice versa whilst both are behind boxes within arms reach of each other. It's not a good look, unless you happen to be Leslie Nielsen.
The interest in the film therefore is limited only to wondering about the reactions in America. You wonder if, upon showing this to a Trump supporter, they would sympathise with murderous psychopath Sam, or wants-to-look-after-his-family Moises (Bernal). Unfortunately, I suspect we know the answer.