‘Mi America’ Examines Hate Crimes and the Immigrant Experience — Just Not All That Well


It’s a timely message, but not the way Mi America delivers it. Muffled under the weight of inexplicable tangents and a bloated runtime is a plea to pay attention to the rise in hate crimes against Latino communities. That message thins as the movie wears on and piles conflict after conflict in pseudo-Crash connections. Have you not learned racism is bad yet? Great, here are more awkwardly staged moments to remind you.

Detective Rolando Ramirez (Robert Fontaine) is on the case of murdered migrant workers when smaller racist incidents against his family lead him to suspect a larger culture of intolerance and a combative hate group may be at fault. Fontaine, also the writer and director here, aims high and crashes spectacularly, unable to keep the Jenga tower of a story together — or from being uninteresting. Instead, it’s a string of bad scenes, often with little more behind them than the idea that hate happens!

Ramirez attempts to deliver a multilayered story with heavy themes, but this is a rudimentary soap-opera-style drama clumsily masked as a deep work of serious art. The movie meanders for an hour in search of how best to show us the different ways racists can ruin your day, like calling your daughter slurs or fighting you in the middle of the street.

Its ineptitude is a shame at this moment of presidential candidates ratcheting up the anti-immigration rhetoric. At least Mi America closes with hastily tacked-on statistics about real hate crimes, a pitiful reminder of the message it couldn’t get across itself. Monica Castillo

Mi America

Written and directed by Robert Fontaine

Industrial House Films

Opens October 16, Village East Cinema 

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 13, 2015

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