Crossing Over: Embracing Illegal Immigration

Hollywood is trying to tug at your heartstrings over illegal immigration. Again.

Last year's Oscar-nominated film, The Visitor, told the emotional tale of an illegal immigrant chased from his home despite the protestations of an aged college professor. And now we have Crossing Over, the new Crash-like drama about a disparate group of illegal immigrants trying to make a home in the U.S. Or, as the film's creators might call them, undocumented workers.

But while The Visitor tells a compelling story with its messages neatly interwoven into the narrative, Crossing Over wears its intentions all over its sleeve, jacket, and trousers.

The main story involves Max Brogan (Harrison Ford), a disgruntled immigration officer who doesn't relish breaking into sweatshops and carting off illegals. During one raid he takes pity on a Mexican mom (Alice Braga) who fears her capture will leave her son alone and unprotected. So Brogan tends to the child himself, a noble effort but one undermined by the lack of depth given to Ford's character. Just what drives Max to work as an immigration official by day and then attempt to undo that damage at night and  on weekends?

The Mexican immigrant isn't the only illegal featured here. The story also introduces us to Claire (Alice Eve), an Australian actress looking to follow in the footsteps of Nicole Kidman and Naomi Watts. But when her green card paperwork gets lost in a bureaucratic haze, she luckily crashes her car into Cole Franklin's (Ray Liotta ). Franklin just happens to work on immigration cases. He can make her green card a reality if she becomes his sexual concubine for two months. Claire also has a boyfriend, a sensitive singer-songwriter (Jim Sturgess ), who is doing his own illegal maneuvering to stay in the country. He's pretending to be a Jewish scholar in order to fast track his green card status. It's the most original plot line in the film, even if it makes as little sense as the other sob stories. And Cole is married to Denise (Ashley Judd), an immigration defense lawyer. When she's not looking like she cares for the downtrodden more than anyone else on earth, Judd is paying visits to a young African girl waiting to find a foster family.

There's also Brogan's partner, Hamid (Cliff Curtis, supplying the film‘s most natural performance), an Iranian-American whose parents are about to take the citizenship oath. And then there are two Korean brothers also on the fast track to citizenship, although they don't appear to take that honor seriously.