When a body is discovered in the Arizona desert, it is sent along to a specific morgue that deals with illegal immigrants that process the remains of anyone who scaled the Mexico/America border and subsequently died attempting to cross the desert. One specific body has the words ‘Dayani Cristal’ tattooed on his chest, but nobody appears to be looking for him.
A documentary very much of two halves, we jump back and forth across the border, hearing from American doctors and politicians as they discuss the new dangers of increased border control, and then we follow co-director/narrator Gael Garcia Bernal as he copies the route taken of Dayani Cristal, starting off in Honduras, and on through the thousands of miles towards the government sanctioned wall that separates North from Central America.
It’s certainly an interesting and thought provoking idea, but unfortunately only one of these halves truly work, and even more unfortunately it’s the half that Bernal seems less interested in. The science behind the new immigration laws and the increased death rate caused by them are quite fascinating, and we see images you’d never automatically associate with illegal immigration, such as shelves upon shelves of unidentified skulls, or filing cabinets filled with personal items to be collected by family members, or an on-site crematorium for when the sheer number of unclaimed bodies begin to stack up.
Back down with Bernal on the trail however, things are far less interesting and far too biased. Along his travels we encounter some beautiful sights – dozens of illegals atop a train set against the sunset, or a burial at night illuminated only by passing cars – but Bernal seems to have no idea how to have a natural conversation with someone. Coming across like a socially awkward Ross Kemp, he chats with locals who tell him how terrible it is that America won’t just let everyone into their country, and by all accounts Bernal seems to agree with them, never once suggesting a positive position on controlling international migration.
Definitely a worthy topic for a documentary, and definitely a topic worthy of a better documentary than this.