Friday, September 14, 2012

For the sake of the Green Card

Watched a movie called Crossing Over on DVD last night, and kept thinking about my son, who's living in the US these days all the time - on a Green Card.   The film is a drama about immigration in the States, about deportations and illegal immigrants and people who aren't legal themselves but have children born in the country who are automatically citizens and so on.  Harrison Ford is in it as an immigration policeman, Cliff Curtis (an Arab this time) is his partner, and there are a host of other bodies, including Ray Liotta (looking curiously seedy throughout), Ashley Judd and Jim Sturgess in smaller roles.  It's one of those films where several stories are begun and then gradually begin to intersect; not always without coincidence.

There's an underlying sense of violence in it, though the occasion on which this really shows up is when an Asian youth caught up with a gang doing a liquor store robbery nearly kills a female customer - his mate has already shot the store owner, and none of the gang apart from the boy survive the incident.  And there are some unnecessary (to my mind) sex scenes: not just the usual we-have-to-show-you-the-characters-at-it but conversations held with the characters in the nude, and a later scene in which two lovers are shot while in flagrante delicto  (which I've just learned means in blazing offence, something I'd never known before).  To my mind forcing actors to converse with each other while they're naked does nothing for their ability to put the scene across successfully.  There was a terrible scene in an otherwise very good TV play quite a few years ago in which the woman was astride the man, in bed, and they had a conversation about politics throughout the we-have-to-show-you-the-characters-at-it scene.  For me, it's just an embarrassment to watch scenes shot in this way, and the fast forward on the remote is very handy.  We-have-to-show-you-the-characters-at-it scene are like those ones that take place in men's toilets, in front of the urinals; that idea, perhaps novel when it was first done, seems to me to have been well and truly overdone, and was probably never very effective in the first place.  (In my experience, men don't tend to linger around urinals having conversations, but maybe New Zealanders are different.)

Anyway, apart from all this, there are some very emotional moments in this movie: a family split apart, another made new; a young man wounded by his girlfriend's casual attitude to prostituting herself in order to get a Green Card, and the scene in which Cliff Curtis faces up to what his brother has done - for the sake of 'family.'   There's also one funny scene in which Jim Sturgess, trying to convince an immigration person that he's Jewish enough to work at a Jewish school (he isn't), is rescued by an elderly Rabbi, in a moment of grace.

In fact there's a good deal of grace exhibited throughout the movie: Harrison Ford is a man who does his job but hates what it does to the people, and he attempts to reunite a Mexican woman and her child when they've become separated by the system.  It's way beyond the call of duty, but he has that kind of integrity as a person.  (It's what Ford does well, of course.)  Grace is given in enormous measure by Cliff Curtis to the Asian boy, a grace that he not only doesn't deserve, but almost throws away.  Quite a picture of the sort of redemption each of us receives from God, if we're willing to take Him up on it.

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