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A.V. Club

Movie Review: Desierto looks to the border for B-movie thrills

In long shot, a pickup truck comes to a stop in a pale salt flat near the badlands. The horizon line is almost perfectly centered, so the frame is about half salted, dry mud and half sky. A cut brings us closer to the truck, on more or less the same axis with the horizon still centered, so that the landscape doesn’t appear to move at all. (Neat trick, that.) There are 12 passengers huddled in the back of the pickup, and three border smugglers up front, called coyotes in common parlance, though not here. The engine is dead, and one of the passengers, a mechanic who’s made the illegal crossing into the United States a few times before, baldly named Moises (Gael García Bernal), declares it unfixable. The smugglers negotiate among themselves. One will stay behind, while the other two will lead the group on foot to …

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