Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Richard Levien's COLLISIONS: an up-close-and-personal, narrative look at the current havoc being wreaked by Trumps's ICE-men

UPDATE: Collisions is now available 
via streaming and DVD here , 
and thefilmmakers are partnering with the 
National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) 
to support its Immigrant Worker Safety Net Fund, 
which provides immediate financial support 
desperately needed by workers and their families 
during this current pandemic. 

Immigrant workers are among the most vulnerable 
at this time, and they are largely excluded from 
government programs. From now through 
April 30, 2020, 50% of proceeds from sales 
of "Collisions" will be donated to this fund.

Remember La Misma Luna, that lovely Patricia Riggin/Ligiah Villalobos movie from 2007? In it, a young boy travels from Mexico to the USA to try to unite with his mom, an undocumented worker laboring here and sending money home to her mom and her kids.

That's the movie of which this new one -- COLLISIONS, written and directed by Richard Levien -- most reminds me, in which two children, an older sister and younger brother, desperately try to find their missing mom, who has, while waiting for her green card, suddenly been arrested and detained by ICE (U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement) and is in danger of being quickly, if not immediately, deported back to Mexico.

Both films, their respective director's (Mr. Levien is shown at right) first full-length effort, tackle a subject that remains unfortunately a hot-button issue, and while each relies a little too much on coincidence to be taken as seriously as its filmmaker might wish, La Misma Luna, boasting a starrier cast, along with a good deal more incident and narrative drive, is by far the more entertaining and moving movie.

Still, Collisions -- with its ripped-from-the-headlines central event and consequent plot line -- proves worth a watch, as well. Despite your knowing where the film is going (together with how it will get there), it is, for the most part, well-written and -acted and directed decently enough to pass muster.

The film's four central performances are especially good -- that of the beleaguered mom (played by Ana de la Reguera, above), her smart-as-a-whip and twice as determined twelve-year-old daughter (Izabella Alvarez, below),

her younger sibling (a sweet and slyly scene-stealing Jason Garcia, Jr., shown below),

and finally mom's estranged-and-none-too-happy-to-be-here brother (Jesse Garcia, below, right, in the film's standout performance), who is roped/guilted into helping his niece and nephew locate their mom. You'll quickly figure out that this crotchety uncle will soon bond with his sister's offspring, but Garcia plays it all very well indeed.

Despite the seemingly too-easy locating of mom and the happenstance that allows this, one of the film's strengths is in depicting the ICE-men and other bureaucrats shown along the way who try to aid the two kids. As writer/director, Mr. Levien -- despite the current drastic and unnecessary actions of ICE (under the despicable leadership of Trump and his sleazy minions) -- allows some humanity in these various individuals to shine through, if only briefly.

This helps save the movie from seeming completely one-sided and obvious. And while the film's finale offers certain amount of feel-good, Collisions is smart enough to know that there are no easy solutions available here.

You may wish the movie were a better one, and indeed it might have been. But TrustMovies suspects that you won't be entirely able to shake off either its timeliness nor its commitment to "family."

Running just 82 minutes, Collisions has its U.S. theatrical premiere in Los Angeles tomorrow evening, Thursday, October 3, at 7:30pm at Laemmle's Ahyra Fine Arts, with the cast and filmmaker in attendance. The film opens for a week-long run on Friday, October 4, at Laemmle's Music Hall 3 in Beverly Hills, with a limited release in selected cities to follow.

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