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“The Girl”

Susan Granger’s review of “The Girl” (Brainstorm Media)

 

Taking responsibility for your own life is a difficult lesson to learn, particularly if you have a self-destructive personality.

Sullen, rebellious Ashley Colton (Abbie Cornish) works for minimum-wages in a South Texas supermarket. Hoping to earn enough money to regain custody of her five year-old son Georgie (Austin Wayne West) from foster care, she asks for a raise. When her boss refuses her request because of her attitude, she snaps, “Everyone knows you like Mexican girls best – the place is full of them.”

An unexpected visit to her disheveled trailer by a child-welfare worker upsets Ashley further. That’s why she agrees to accompany her cynical truck-driver father, Tommy (Will Patton), over the border to his home in Nuevo Laredo for a tequila-drenched night in Mexico. She learns that he’s become a ‘coyote,’ transporting illegals into Texas in his big rig – which gives Ashley an idea. She figures she can pick up quick cash – $500 a person – if she drops a handful of hopeful Mexicans on the banks of the Rio Grande, which is at its lowest level, urges them to cross on foot, and retrieves them on the other side of the river in her station wagon. What she doesn’t figure on is the vigilant Border Patrol. During the disastrous crossing, most are lost and she’s left with feisty, six year-old Rosa (Maritza Santiago Hernandez), whose mother has drowned. Distraught, Ashley must make some life-changing decisions as she unexpectedly bonds with the orphaned Mexican girl.

While writer/director David Riker (“La Ciudad”) carefully delineates this psychological study of a neglectful mother, he fails to elicit compassion and empathy for her plight. Many of her problems are clearly of her own making; she, admittedly, feels far more stressed than guilty. Plus, Australian actress Abbie Cornish seems more convincing conversing in Spanish than in a South Texas drawl. As a result, the impact of the bilingual drama is diluted.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Girl” is an unsatisfying 5, failing in its quest for spiritual redemption.

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