Who Is Dayani Cristal?

"Excellent"

Who Is Dayani Cristal? Review


Actor-producer Gael Garcia Bernal takes a strikingly complex look at the timely issue of human migration from Central America to the United States, which is rarely depicted with such honest humanity. By exploring three sides of a single story, this artful film is an enlightening documentary, a moving drama and a riveting mystery. It also offers a glimmer of hope if politicians shake off party pressures and take some notice of what it has to say.

The film opens in Arizona's Sonora Desert, where more than 200 unidentified bodies are found every year. These are immigrants who desperately travel north seeking a better life for their loved ones back home, but end up as illegals struggling to survive in the harsh landscape. When police find a body with the name "Dayani Cristal" tattooed on it, experts (Bruce Anderson and Ivon Ton-Quevedo) begin the search to determine the man's identity. Meanwhile in Honduras, the missing Yohan is discussed by his parents, wife and children as a kind man who made the trip to the USA to fund treatment for his dying son. At the same time, Garcia Bernal retraces Yohan's difficult journey by rail through Mexico, seeking people who may have met him along the way.

All three strands of this film are so personal that they're impossible to dismiss on the usual political grounds: this isn't the story of an issue, it's about a real man with a family. And through various conversations with people on every side of the story, the true picture emerges of a badly broken system that has been tarnished with lies from American right-wing fanatics who portray migrants as criminals who just want to steal from the US government. The truth is that the economy needs immigrant workers to survive, and the vast majority of them are intelligent, conscientious workers who are genuinely trying to help their families survive. And the problems back home can be directly traced to US corporations that have stolen jobs and resources from their homelands.

By telling this story in such an earthy way, the film manages to never shout too loudly about any of this. Facts emerge through quiet conversations, building to hugely cathartic moments that leave the audience shaken with emotion. The question of the title is answered in a way that's especially moving. But the real achievement is that, after watching this film, it's impossible to think of immigration as an "us versus them" issue anymore. It's hardly even controversial, because these are human beings we're talking about. No, the borders can't be flung wide open, but this system isn't helping anyone.



Who Is Dayani Cristal?

Facts and Figures

Genre: Documentaries

Run time: 85 mins

In Theaters: Friday 18th April 2014

Distributed by: Kino Lorber Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 77%
Fresh: 17 Rotten: 5

IMDB: 6.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Marc Silver

Producer: , Thomas Benski, Lucas Ochoa

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

With this fifth Transformers movie, it seems clear that Michael Bay is still trying to...

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Notorious British filmmaker Nick Broomfield teams up with Austrian music documentary producer Rudi Dolezal to...

The Mummy Movie Review

The Mummy Movie Review

To launch their new Dark Universe franchise, Universal has taken an approach that mixes murky...

Advertisement
My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

Daphne du Maurier's 1951 mystery-romance novel has been adapted for theatre, radio, TV and film,...

Wilson Movie Review

Wilson Movie Review

It's never helpful when a comedy becomes a bit too smug about its own quirkiness....

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

A fictionalised story from the life of Wolfgang Mozart, this lavishly produced period drama is...

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

This British satirical comedy may be a bit of a mess, but since it's based...

Detour Movie Review

Detour Movie Review

This may look like a rather typical American indie thriller, but British filmmaker Christopher Smith...

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Boldly optimistic, this action-packed adventure breathes fresh life into the DC universe with a welcome...

Baywatch Movie Review

Baywatch Movie Review

Clearly, it's a risky proposition adapting a cheesy vintage TV series for the big screen:...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.