By Owen Gleiberman
February 27, 2009 at 05:00 AM EST
Dale Robinette

Crossing Over


Crossing Over tells a tale of illegal aliens in ? Los Angeles, with Harrison Ford scowling through the role of a weary Immigration ?and Customs Enforcement officer. It may seem safe to assume that the movie is going to be about desperate, impoverished Mexicans trying to smuggle themselves over the U.S. border. But the thrust of Crossing Over, a multi-stranded, narrative-collage message movie ? in the Crash/Babel we-are-all-one-world mode, is that undocumented immigrants arrive ?in America from anywhere and everywhere. They can be like Gavin (Jim Sturgess), a British musician who draws on his secular Jewish roots to try to forge fake credentials as an Orthodox holy man; or Taslima (Summer Bishil), a 15-year-old Bangladeshi who gets in trouble with the feds after she reads a paper in class exalting the courage of the 9/11 ?hijackers (she later claims that she wasn’t ?defending them — a bit hypocritically, I’d say); or Claire (Alice Eve), an Aussie actress who is promised legal status by Cole (Ray Liotta), an applications adjudicator, if she’ll sleep with him at his beck and call; or Yong (Justin Chon), a Korean teenager who, on the verge of taking his naturalization oath, is lured into a youth gang even more blankly vicious and overwrought than the one in Gran Torino.

The director, Wayne Kramer (The Cooler), crisscrosses these stories into a diverting ? anthropological melodrama, with enough ?coincidence to keep the action unified. ? A lawyer (Ashley Judd) who takes the case of one of the illegals, for instance, is married ? to Liotta’s sleazy case officer. Fortunately, there isn’t enough coincidence to turn the film ?into a Crash-like pileup of crazy “connective” accidents. Yet Crossing Over is so eager to ?go for the emotional jugular that it never quite ?forges an enlightening point of view. It places us on the side of men and women who crave green cards as if they were magical totems. But when the film wags its finger at the U.S. for deigning to protect itself by cracking down on those who haven’t earned green cards, its understanding of immigrants starts to look like little more than knee-jerk empathy. B?

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Crossing Over

  • Movie
  • R
  • 113 minutes
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  • Crossing Over