Being a South Florida resident, I practically watched this whole sad story unfold right before my very eyes. It almost seems surreal that this whole saga happened. I, like many Americans, had conflicting emotions and there seemed to be no easy answer to it. Nevertheless, I was eager to watch the movie when it came out. Although this movie has some good quality acting, there are serious faults with it.
This movie could've been a hell of a lot better if Fox had actually taken the time to really write a good screenplay. This is the film's major flaw. The film tries to cram in so much detail in a two hour time frame that the sequence of events becomes confusing at times. There were so many twists and turns to the real life drama that it should've been done as a two-part miniseries. Apparently, the powers-at-be at Fox were so eager to be the first to do a film on the story that they didn't care to really develop a good, cohesive screenplay. It's a shame too because the caliber of actors in the film is extraordinary, and they do the best they can with a lackluster script.
The acting performances here are solid and gripping, most notably Esai Morales as Elian's devoted dad and Miguel Sandoval as the great-uncle Lazaro. The performance of Laura Herring as the anguished cousin was also decent, although there were moments were her portrayal seemed to be way over the top particularly towards the end of the film. Alan Rachins also gives a worthy performance as the Miami family's attorney.
To its credit, the movie does try its best to present the story from a neutral perspective, allowing the viewers to sympathize with both the father and the Miami relatives. That in itself is remarkable given the nature of a story that could easily slant one way or the other.
Overall, the movie could've been better but it is still somewhat watchable. My rating is 5.8 out of 10.
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