Ed Harris, Eva Longoria, and Michael Pena star in this modern "western" that tackles the issues of illegal immigration from Mexico into the United States. It's a worthy topic deserving of our attention but the script becomes a little too neat and manipulative.
Mr. Harris is a retired sheriff who's land borders Mexico. Amy Madigan, his real wife, plays his wife in the film. Mr. Pena is a Mexican illegal who crosses the border looking for work to support his wife, Ms. Longoria, and his family. A tragic event sets things in motion that brings all the characters together.
Trusting their lives to "coyotes", who smuggle them across the border, these people are just hoping for a better life in the United States. More often than not, they are robbed, sexually assaulted, and left to fend for themselves. The film pulls no punches in some of the harsher scenes in the sub-plot.
It is refreshing to see Ms. Longoria in a serious, un-glamorous role as she falls prey to one of these "coyotes". Her situation along with Mr. Pena's misfortune, is heartbreaking to watch. Luckily Mr. Harris is doing his best Gary Cooper impression as he takes matters into his own hands to make things right. It is here that the script and the film score combine to really heighten our emotions and even though it feels manipulative, the final moments are very tense.
I don't expect this film to last very long in theaters so look for it on video or cable if the subject matter interests you or you are a fan of Mr. Harris. He easily elevates any film he's in and "Frontera" falls into that category.