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Crossing Over

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Wayne Kramer’s immigration drama has had a troubled release. First, the producers demanded it be cut considerably from its original length, and then Sean Penn reportedly insisted his scenes be removed because he objected to the movie’s portrayal of Iranians. With Harrison Ford, Ray Liotta, Ashley Judd and a variable cast of lesser-knowns, the movie is a multi-storyline saga in the manner of Traffic and Crash, focusing on the travails of illegal immigrants from various countries trying to achieve legal status. Kramer, a South African immigrant who spent years struggling to get his green card, has undoubtedly informed the movie with his own experience, and many scenes are powerfully moving, especially those involving a little African girl stranded in a detention facility while her mother is dying of AIDS. Other scenarios lean toward the trite and predictable, and the “honor killing” story, though modified after complaints by Iranian groups, is still culturally questionable. But this is a well-intentioned, heartfelt plea for tolerance, made quite watchable by Kramer’s distinctive directorial trademarks — complex crane shots, interesting transitions and frank sexuality, particularly in the story about a pretty Australian actress (Alice Eve) who’s sexually exploited by a sleazy immigration official (Liotta). HH 1/2

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