Richard is a film critic at Arts & Opinion. He
gave Paraiso Travel, which sold out for its three
viewings at Montreal's 2009
Festivalissimo Film Festival, 3.4 out of 4
stars. For the rest of his ratings, click
are caught, some get shot, some are raped; but for those in
limbo it’s just another daily wage that gets paid
pursuing the dream of El Norte – where billboards announcing
the better life glitter high over the American dreamscape.
For millions of destitute, faceless.com have-not Latinos who
have got nothing to lose, trading one hell for the possibility
of another is not a deterrent.
Brand’s riveting film, Paraiso Travel, begins
in one of the many ruthless clash zones that pit-bull border
authorities against hopeful immigrants looking to buck the
odds and make it to the promised land.
on the bestselling novel by Jorge Franco, Paraiso Travel
is sure to put Columbia on the map for reasons other than
coca and consequences. In its no holds barred examination
of the complex issues of immigration, Paraiso Travel ranks
among the very best the genre has produced, which include
For a Moment, Freedom by Arash T Riahi, The Same
Moon by Patricia Riggen and El Norte by Gregory
Nava, and constitutes must viewing for the especially American
public that has been media suckered into believing that immigrants
are undesirable, and that the myth-making American entrepreneur
who thrives on illegal immigration is incidental to the social
unrest caused by the demand for indocumentados --
the cheap wage that makes him rich and Uncle Sam poorer because
immigrant revenue goes undeclared.
-- the Spanish word for paradise -- promises to take the viewer
into the heart of darkness of immigration and the pitfalls
that await those for whom El Norte is the only dream in the
crazy and dangerous love between Reina, played by the captivating
Angelica Blandon, and Marlon (Aldemar Correa) is the glue
that keeps the many strands of this idea-rich film in perspective.
Once the young lovers arrive in New York, Reina goes missing
and Marlon will stop at nothing to find her. What he finds
instead are the many uncomfortable truths of America’s
dependency on immigration (reflexively denied) as well as
an unofficial, undocumented, spurned society of immigrants.
Much of the film's fluid narration is skillfully supplied
by the flashback technique.
at the sight of anyone in uniform, Marlon recalls the horrors
he and Reina went through as they travelled illegally from
Medellin, Columbia through Guatemala and Mexico. In his quest
to find Reina, he encounters many characters, some of whom
try to help him establish a new life in the States -- and
to forget about Reina. One of them – Milagro (Ana de
la Reguera) – becomes strongly attracted to Marlon,
but the latter is unable to refuse the bewitching Reina.
this tough, compelling film unfolds, as love-struck Marlon
pays dearly for his enterprise, we find ourselves asking to
what end? What does he hope to gain? If not the American Dream,
what is the appropriate metaphor to describe immigrants’
misplaced hopes? Is it fair to ask of the immigrant what Bob
Dylan asked of his generation, many of whom drew their last
breath in Viet Nam,