Directed by: #JakeThomasArmbruster
Frontera is an excitingly new piece, a winner of the London Independent Film Festival (#LIFF) and rightly so! A dramatic and gripping film that keeps the audience firmly planted to their seats as they wait expectantly for the story to unfold, revealing action, turmoil and fear amongst its viewers. Two brothers are forced to come together again after each taking different paths in life, a life of crime and a life devoted to politics.
With a running time of 82 minutes, a lot of action is condensed into this independent film. If this piece were to be likened to another it would most likely fit with TV series Breaking Bad, but purely based on its storyline (mainly because nothing will be able to ever top Breaking Bad!). Portraying good guys caught up in a world of crime and dodgy misdealings.
You have the character Bradley (Justin Berti), throwing himself into the realm of politics attempting to create the façade of ‘everything’s fine’ and ‘I’m honestly a good guy’ look, which as we all know politicians are able to falsify with the greatest of ease. However, Bradley carries with him baggage from his father’s life, known as a public figure and arms dealer to the cartel. Not the kind of baggage a politician can shake off lightly, however, Bradley attempts to move on from his family’s dishonest past in order to make way for his new life. Justin Berti executed the role of the politician seamlessly, a very believable performance with the right combination of a serious persona and a touch of white lies, his presence evoked the true essence of a corrupt politician.
Bradley’s brother, Sonny, played by Omar Saavedra held an altogether separate demeanour. With ties still attached to the cartel, Sonny finds it difficult to move away from his past as opposed to Bradley and snaps back into that menacing guise rather sharpish when called upon by the cartel. It became challenging at times to see Omar Saavedra play, to put bluntly, a bit of a hard nut. He has almost a baby faced look which just cries out innocence. On the other hand, perhaps that worked in his favour, as many of his rivals saw him as a “nobody,” but Sonny does not let this stunt his full potential. He came across as sheepish in some scenes but soon twists the story completely on his head just when we think he’s been cornered.
It has to be said that not all characters were entirely polished, the brothers’ mother did not seem to react well to the action happening around her. It tended to be the same response within every scene she was involved in. There was not a lot of variety to her movement, facial expressions or tone which can make the scene a little rigid and her character unconvincing as a mother of two boys going down a very dark path. It made the character seem quite distant from the ongoing dangers her boys were to be facing.
Nevertheless, a beautifully shot story. I’m always a big advocate in candid and raw film making so it was great to experience the landscapes of California unfiltered. One scene in particular which was so captivating to watch over was Sonny overlooking the forest fire that had emerged over the hills. Frontera is enthralling from start to finish and has a bit of everything guns, kidnappings, rivalries, corrupt cops, where can you go wrong?