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Bordertown DVD Only Review
Actors: Jennifer Lopez, Antonio Banderas, Martin Sheen
Format :PAL, Import
Region: Region 2
Number of discs: 1
Run Time: 105 minutes
recommended age 16
"To Report The Story She Must Break The Silence"
Last night I was taken on a journey by a film that moved me so much that I feel compelled to write this review, in case the intensity of the feelings I experienced should fade with the passing of time.
Bordertown is the story of the plight of young female workers who battle each day to earn a tiny wage in the factories along the US/Mexican border in the town of Juarez. This is just over from the US border town of El Paso in Texas. Not only do they struggle with extremely poor working conditions making cut price electrical goods for the US market, as the free trade agreements - NAFTA (North American Free Trade) encourage this, but they also are targets for criminality, as many are brutally attacked raped and murdered. Over the last decade it is thought that 5000 have gone missing, many as young as fourteen.
This serious subject matter is harsh enough if it was fiction, but the film is actually based on real life events that are still taking place in this area. For me this was even harder hitting as my son lives close to this border on the US side. On my recent visit it was clear how acute the situation is there, as we were subjected to thorough checkpoint screening as we drove along the main highways close to the border. Many try to escape to the US to start new lives, but the border patrol is very heavily policed to prevent drug trafficking. The result is that these women have little they can do to escape the situation, and nothing is done to reprimand the perpetrators of the violent crimes that happen to these innocent women. It is also thought that the police in this region have pockets of corruption, so it is difficult to seek justice for anyone caught committing these crimes of atrocity.
The plot in brief follows Lauren (Jennifer Lopez), an ambitious Chicago journalist, as she is assigned to the area by her boss (Martin Sheen) to report on the plight of these women. She enlists the help of local journalist played by Antonio Banderas. The film has many twists and turns and is a nail biting story - to follow events I recommend you watch this for yourself.
I cannot adequately find the words to express how intense my feelings were in watching this film. You might think of Jennifer Lopez as an all singing all dancing attractive celebrity, but her film career is certainly one to follow as I have seen her in some excellent performances including her superb part in An Unfinished Life with Morgan Freeman. In Bordertown she excels; she plays the part of a hard hitting, motivated woman who acts with such skill and involvement that you are instantly transported to, and captivated within, the town where events take place. The DVD extras contain an interview with her in which she explains how she has such empathy with the situation these women face, and this was what drove her to make the film. I feel it was this intensity of feeling and empathy which led her to perform so well. I can't remember a film in recent months where I felt as involved as I did with this one; it was like a hundred and five minutes in Mexico immersed in the situation, saturated with the pace and the events as they unfolded fast. It isn't a slow moving film but an intense thriller, and there are some nail biting moments. It isn't for the faint hearted either, as there are some brutal scenes- necessary to paint the picture with accuracy.
Although I was expecting this to almost have a documentary quality I found it soon became an action thriller which had twists and turns at every junction. One of the women - Eva plays a superb part in the film- her vulnerability and personality destroyed in the aftermath of an attempted murder as she tried to make her way home one night from the factory.
As well as the action there are so tender intense moments which Jennifer delivers with such poise and care, and these are appropriate as they highlight the devastation these events cause.
The other actors perform well but none of them are outstanding as Jennifer is, they play their parts adequately enough in my opinion. The writer and director Gregory Nava had worked with Jennifer in her first film - Selena, so the there was history between them and as a result she co-directed this film.
The DVD available from Amazon currently retails for £6.43 and is strangely produced with Dutch subtitles which I promptly removed before watching. The film also contains several dialogues in Spanish, which are not comprehensible unless you are a Spanish speaker - but in my opinion these do not adversely affect the flow of the film, but rather add to its authenticity. In retrospect if I had known how good this film was I would probably have ordered the region 1 DVD from Amazon, which is what I have now done, as the subtitles for the Spanish will then be in English. As I have a DVD player with the capability to play region 1 discs this is my preferred format for this film. I think it is probably fair to say that Amazon do make it clear on their listing for the region 2 version that the subtitles are in Dutch but it is worth bearing in mind when purchasing.
As mentioned before, the extras on the DVD include interviews with the main characters and the director and make interesting viewing.
I would say that this film really made me think about the cost of everything and the value of nothing. The unrest in this DVD is everywhere - you can feel the tense atmosphere, the poverty and the hopelessness of the situation. It is an intense thriller, but for me it is laced with the sad reality that behind the film there is a heart breaking situation. The film is a glimpse into a world of sadness and it is a disturbing portrayal of reality. It leaves you shuddering and cold.
When listing this I was only offered one genre to select so I had to choose thriller- but it is so much more than this - think documentary - think drama -think reality. It is a marriage of all of these.
This review is also published on Ciao under my user name Violet1278.