REVIEW: The Girl

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The Girl
Directed by: David Riker
Written by: David Riker (screenplay)
Starring: Abbie Cornish, Maritza Santiago Hernandez, Will Patton and Angeles Cruz

There’s a scene in The Girl, David Riker’s ferociously personal film about immigration, that serves as a more scathing and succinct indictment of American policy than almost any news story could.  Ashley (Abbie Cornish) has recently discovered that her border-crossing semi-truck driving father (Will Patton) smuggles in illegal immigrants from Mexico with his legal corporate cargo.  The point of his character is to illustrate how corporations have an easier time crossing the border than people.

The Girl is anchored by a fantastic performance from Cornish, a mother with a son in foster care who turns to smuggling illegal immigrants across the border for extra cash.  She works at a Wal Mart-like megastore and is a recovering alcoholic, but Riker’s handling of her desperation is compassionate.  Most of the screenplay is overtly political and Riker does little formally to mask this, so it can at times feel a little too heavy-handed, but Cornish, Patton and the young newcomer Maritza Santiago Hernandez bring crucial humanity to it.

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