Timely Topic Completely Bungled in Immigration Tango

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Immigration Tango
Directed by David Burton Morris
Roadside Attractions
Opens February 18

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Director David Burton Morris, working from a script he co-wrote with Todd Norwood and Martin L. Kelley, would seem to be in the thick of heated political debate with this film about the citizenship struggles of immigrants, but Immigration Tango—an unfunny comedy—bungles the gift of good timing. Russian business student Elena (Elika Portnoy) humiliates a crude job interviewer, whose revenge is turning her in to the authorities for having overstayed her student visa. Panicked, she and her Colombian immigrant boyfriend, Carlos (Carlos Leon), agree to a plan by American friends Mike and Betty, a couple in their own right, for Elena to marry Mike for a green card. Soon, the unevenly acted film is a swirl of bigoted in-laws, surly immigration officials, and the problematic blossoming of romantic feelings between Elena and Mike. Tango largely sidesteps the ways race drives the immigration debate by having Elena’s pale shoulders bear the weight of the issue—a choice by the filmmakers that reflects the thorny impasses that all immigrants, regardless of skin color, face. Less forgivable is the fact that this is a film in which characters are flung out of character solely for cheap laughs and rarely actually listen or talk to one another; they largely declaim the schematic words put in their mouths, pushing the silly plot forward but only intermittently approximating human interaction.

 
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