No Man’s Land Review: It Is A Well-Intended But Shallow Meditation On Migratory Assimilation

No Man’s Land

Starring   Frank Grillo, Jake Allyn, George Lopez, Andie McDowell, Alex MacNicoll, Jorge A.Jiménez and Andres Delgado.

Directed  by  Conor Allyn

Rating: ** *

Okay, shallow is  not always a deception. Sometimes  it can also be  a way to reach  into more hearts . Sure enough, No Man’s Land is a movie that  makes a direct move  into moving  you. It aims at being a basic  morality play where an  eye-for-an-eye is shunned  for  kindness forgiveness and  acceptance. To that extent this films works just fine. However  if you are looking for complex explorations of  the migratory  experience then  perhaps you should be  looking  at  Chris Weitz’s A Better Life  or Mira Nair’s The Namesake.

As a  film that  renders  the populist raga No Man’s Land is interesting and well-plotted with  several  wildly improbable  coincidences that  induce  a smile rather than a  groan. The film is well shot , with the border between the US and Mexico serving as  the  area of dramatic tension that  the  young hero Jackson(Jake Allyn)  walks through  after killing a young Mexican boy. Jackson  ends up on the wrong side  of the border where he meets the kindest people  possible. One family takes him in and  there is of course a   hint  of a romance with the pretty daughter  of the house. Alas, neither Jackson nor the  film has  any patience with  huggy-smoochie  breaks. Jackson needs  to  reach the dead boy’s funeral in  time.

He is  sorry for what  he has done.In its own modestly emotional  way, the  film brings out Jackson’s repentance  in  shades  of recognizable penitence. It helps  that the role is played by a camera-friendly wholesome all-American  actor(who happens to be   the director’s brother). Jackson looks  like  a part of  the  American  family that is plotted around the  migrant’s tale. His father is played by the  veteran Frank Grillo who is  really very effective  as the patriarch trying to stay liberal while his family is under attack.But the accomplished Andie McDowell  is wasted in  the  mother’s role.The Mexican  side  is  also well-represented  by authentic actors. But the screenplay is over-sweetened with  confectionery characters. Some of the sweetness, like the woman and her  little son whom Jackson befriends on  a bus, lingers in a  good way.  No Man’s Land is racily written and well shot. It is  an engaging yarn somewhat short of breadth  but noble enough to be winsome

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