This capsule review originally appeared as part of our coverage of the 2014 Dublin Film Festival
Break for the border – ★★★★½
Director Diego Quemada-Diez’s debut feature is a story of three young kids who try to go from a life of nothing in Guatemala to the dream of prosperity and worth in the United States. To do this they have to overcome any number of obstacles and threats (take your pick from anything involving drugs, prostitution and abuse) and travel on top of old freight trains up through Mexico to an incredibly well-guarded US border.
Spoiler-alert, things don’t go too well and these kids do not get to go to high school prom in California. Instead Quemada-Diez goes for the hard-hitting options and leaves the viewer in no doubt to just how tough this journey would be for the thousands of would-be migrants who attempt simple treks every year.
The film calls to mind the brilliant Sin Nombre from 2009 but it’s a very different film despite the similar subject matter with the use of non-professional actors and what feels like a lot of improvised dialogue helping to create a very believable world where friendships are as likely to be made as broken.
The final five minutes are some of the most powerful scenes you’ll see this year and some may think the imagery and final metaphor is laid on just a little too thick but in my book it was a fitting end to a beautifully told story of friendship, aspiration and loss.
Released at Dublin’s IFI on June 27th 2014