Collisions is the feature debut of writer-director Richard Levien. The film tells the story of two children who come home to find their undocumented mother having been taken by ICE, forcing them on the road with their unreliable uncle in an attempt to find her and stop her from being deported. It has played multiple festivals including the 2019 Florida Film Festival.
This movie’s story, while somewhat predictable and a tad melodramatic at times, is a perfect tool to deliver the statement which Levien is trying to make. As a road movie, the film is quite effective, hitting all of the necessary beats and moving along at a pace fast enough to keep the audience invested in the story.
However, the main reason that this movie is so effective is that the characters are so well-written. The uncle character fits a very clear archetype, and while he is a dynamic character, his arc is predictable. It is the two children in the film that are extremely nuanced and interesting. Movies rarely nail the minds of children, particularly situations like this, so Levien definitely deserves praise for achieving this.
Because it is so easy to get invested in the characters and their story, the film is often heartbreaking. There are some cute moments of family bonding scattered throughout, but this is by no means a fun movie. This is a movie about immigrant families being separated. Sadly, this film couldn’t come out at a better time, as this so recently dominated news headlines.
One of the best parts of this movie is that it can serve as a palatable introduction to some of the practices that ICE has. The story will introduce those who aren’t as up-to-date or varied in their media consumption to what is happening in our world today. Although this film probably won’t change the world, it will start the conversation, and that’s what needs to happen right now.
The actors in the movie all do a very good job. Jesse Garcia, the main adult actor in the film, is very talented. He brings a ton of emotion and nuance to the character, particularly in the second half of the movie in which he experiences most of his growth. Ana de la Reguera has a relatively small part, but her performance is quite powerful, creating some of the most hard-hitting moments. Child actors Isabella Alvarez and Jason Garcia Jr. are great too, showing a ton of promise.
On a technical level, the film was quite strong. The cinematography and production design do a very good job of creating the look and feel necessary for the movie to be effective. The sequence in the garage is particularly well-shot, as it does an excellent job of building the feelings of suspense and anxiety that drive the emotion of the scene.
Overall, Collisions was a very impressive debut film. Surprisingly, the movie manages not to be overwhelmed by its political nature, instead delivering a viewing experience that is both well-rounded and meaningful. This is one you will want to check out if you get the chance.
Collisions is now playing at the 2019 Florida Film Festival.