Rodrigo Reyes’s study of the infamous Mexico-U.S. border goes far beyond the border itself, deep into Mexico, where living conditions are deplorable, corruption is rampant, and desperation is bred. The title evokes Dante, and pilgrims who must go through hell to get to paradise. Here we have hell, but no guarantee of entrance into the promised land. When an arbitrary line in the sand has the power to determine one’s fate, heart becomes everything: are you the Good Samaritan American who leaves supplies in backpacks for the Mexicans trying to cross, or the blood-thirsty patriot who goes around picking up what he believes to be trail markers, making it impossible for these desperate souls to find their way to freedom, or at least a drink of water? The cinematography is stunning, the images horrifically powerful, but Mr. Reyes’s point would be better served if he pulled back a bit on the poetic narration and offered more in the way of basic information about the grim scenes he unflinchingly depicts.
At VIFF: Sept. 30, 6:30 p.m., Cinematheque; Oct. 2, 4 p.m., Rio; Oct. 11, 2:30 p.m., Cinematheque