Verdict: 3.5 / 5
Who is Dayani Cristal? The film is a narrative documentary that highlights the immense flaws in immigration laws between the US and Mexico featuring celebrity presence Gael García Bernal.
The combination of Bernal’s journey to the border and the real-life documentary are powerful and immensely eye opening. The movie passionately documents the on going battle of immigration laws into the US from the multifaceted viewpoint, of the police, forensic specialists, border control, Mexican families and the immigrants themselves.
The movie narrative shifts between three main intertwining threads. The opening scene begins in the Arizona Dessert where police find the unidentified body of a Mexican immigrant. The mystery of our “main character’s” identity begins with a noticeable tattoo that reads “Dayani Cristal”. The documentary progresses as investigators and forensic workers delve into the grueling processes, used to unveil the identity of the man. Throughout the investigation personal accounts and opinions of professionals are given, adding to the severity of this issue.
In beautiful heartwarming scenes the man’s wife reminisces about the time they first met as the migrant worker’s life is told through interviews with close family members and friends. Bernal’s passage is honorable and insightful as he documents the man’s movements by bus, train top and foot. He shows not only the journey of this one man but a journey lived by many immigrants.
The movie is insightful and intriguing to all viewers no matter what nationality, it definitely gives a new dimension to the subject of illegal immigration. The flow however seems a bit stunted between Bernal’s narrative and the investigation of the man’s death. It seems unclear whether Bernal’s story was fictional or real, which becomes slightly distracting in some scenes. His narrative sometimes gave away clues before the police had found the information making portions of the movie slightly tedious.
The cinematography is one of the highlights of the movie, capturing the beauty and tragedy of the Mexican landscape, it makes up for Bernal’s slightly lost portrayal of the migrants worker’s journey.
A great depiction of the Mexican immigrants struggle but slightly difficult to follow the flow of the story.