‘The Infiltrators’ Review: Immigrant Activists Slip Into Detention

‘The Infiltrators’ Review: Immigrant Activists Slip Into Detention

‘The Infiltrators’ Review: Immigrant Activists Slip Into Detention

‘The Infiltrators’ Review: Immigrant Activists Slip Into Detention

In 2012, a group of activists who were undocumented immigrants willingly got themselves sent to detention facilities, where they worked from the inside to free people who were scheduled for deportation. The docu-thriller “The Infiltrators” depicts their feat, following Marco Saavedra and Viridiana Martinez, both of whom had protected status through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. As part of a rigorous strategy, these two and their comrades targeted the Broward Transitional Center in Florida, where men and women were being held in custody despite their lack of criminal records.

Armed with a thorough understanding of Obama-era immigration law, Saavedra and Martinez worked to inform fellow detainees of their rights, coordinating with activists outside to put public and legal pressure on officials to call off deportations. To tell their story, the directors Cristina Ibarra and Alex Rivera combine scripted re-enactments with documentary footage — a stylistic gambit that yields mixed results.

For scenes inside Broward, actors play the central figures. These portions of the film are informative, but the performers seem timid in comparison to their real-life counterparts. The camera captures vital information — essential documents passed through trash collection, whiteboards with the names of the day’s deportees scrawled in red — but these images are perfunctory, lacking the radical spark of the documentary scenes set outside of the center.

Jumping between wildly dissimilar styles makes for an occasionally jarring film. Yet despite this awkwardness, the movie works. The narrative approach represents a risk taken by the filmmakers, and their daring suits the story they are trying to tell. For a group of activists who took chances with their own legal status, only a comparably experimental cinematic style could do their efforts justice.

The Infiltrators

Not rated. In English and Spanish, with subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 35 minutes. Watch through virtual cinemas.


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