600 Miles

****1/2

Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

600 Miles
"A brilliant piece of character driven desert noir."

There are moments that are pointed, observations that are made as events coalesce, collapse - a request for ID that comes when the cigarettes come across the conveyor belt at the checkout, not the boxes of ammunition before. There is the dynamic between two young men, one doing the driving, counting out the money, making decisions, the other fetching and carrying but less than biddable. There is the winding speed-bump slalom from high-way to border-crossing, the repeated rehearsal of a lie that's never called for.

There is an unfolding, a slow progress, not a meander nor a procession but a measured series of events that tells us more; each time the shape in front of us rotates it gathers another facet, revealing something bright, diamond-tight. Tim Roth is the big name, but his appearance as Hank Harris (even his arrival on screen) is as muted as his performance. Even with a quantity of the shouting and shooting and running it's a small, closely-wound thing, a proceeding. A direct counterpart in Harrison Thomas as Carson, bombast and petty-crime, a youthful cog in a larger criminal machine whose fears aren't enough to protect him from impulse. Between the two, between a lot of things, is Kristyan Ferrer as Amulfo Rubio. His is a standout performance in a brilliant piece of character driven desert noir, a perilous perambulation through interzonal Arizonal landscapes as bleak and bleached as the sands outside.

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The driving crime is the smuggling of firearms across the Mexican border, a process illustrated with neither flash nor pomp but flair and aplomb. The purchases from gun-shows, from gun-stores, from big boxes and from grocers, the mechanisms of exchange and delivery, the small moments that each tell us something about systems or people. Director Gabriel Ripstein and co-writer Issa Lopez have constructed something special, something that is lean, whipcord-tight.

The ending, when it comes, is brutal. Events eventually unseen beneath the credits and noises off beneath the black and white of text cast a different, harsher light. The journey there detours, diverts, but it's inevitable, believable, commendable. 600 Miles is minimal, compelling, haunting, and worth a trip to see.

Reviewed on: 19 Jun 2015
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A federal agent is kidnapped while he is trying to track a weapons cartel.

Festivals:

EIFF 2015
SSFF 2015

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