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 film work 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 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
No Man's Land directed by Conor Allyn gets 3 stars.
Image source: IMDb, Youtube/MovieTrailersSource
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