COLLISIONS – Review by Carol Cling

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Ripped from the headlines. Ripped from your family.

Both statements apply to Collisions, a topical drama that explores one family’s confrontation with current U.S. immigration policy.

Before the movie’s titles roll, a Mexican proverb provides rueful context: “Some are born under a lucky star. Some are born into collisions.”

A sobering statistic provides more factual background: “Every four minutes, a U.S. citizen child is separated from a parent by deportation.”

That’s exactly what happens to 12-year-old Itan (Izabella Alvarez), a star middle-school student who returns home one afternoon with her 6-year-old brother Neto (Jason Garcia) in tow.

Their abode has been turned upside down. Even worse, there’s no trace of their hardworking mother Yoana (telenovela star Ana de la Reguera).

The kids have no idea what’s happened, but we do. When Yoana heard a knock, she thought one of the kids forgot something and made the mistake of opening the door — to armed Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents who hauled her off to detention.

Without their mother, Itan and Neto seem destined for separate foster homes. Until Itan remembers their shiftless uncle Evencio (Jesse Garcia).

Evencio and Yoana may be estranged (for good reason), but he’s still family. And, as a big-rig trucker, he just might be able to help the kids find and free their mother — before she’s deported.

Richard Levien (working from a story by novelist Malin Alegria) makes an accomplished feature debut, balancing the movie’s thematic urgency with a steady, low-key approach that reflects the characters’ collective plight.

Occasionally, their actions affect events; more often, Collisions details their increasingly desperate reactions to policies, and people, far beyond their control.

Frazer Bradshaw’s digital photography captures vivid road-trip locations, from desolate deserts to ominous immigration prisons, while Justin Melland’s edgy musical score adds to the impact.

In keeping with such a personal tale, however, it’s the quietly affecting performances that keep Collisions on course.

Even in an abbreviated role, de la Reguera (whose credits range from Narcos to Nacho Libre) proves a haunting presence, while Jesse Garcia (Quinceanera, From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series) ably conveys Evencio’s conflicting impulses.

And, at the heart of Collisions, the movie’s heartbreaking sibling duo — Jason Garcia as energetic little Neto and Alvarez (Westworld, Shameless) as brainy, brave-beyond-her-years Itan — provide an all-too-human window into a topical, all-too-painful reality.

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Carol Cling

Carol Cling served as the Las Vegas Review-Journal's film critic for more than 30 years, reviewing movies and covering movie and TV production in Las Vegas, from Casino to CSI. An honors graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, she also has studied film at the American Film Institute and the BBC