SXSW Film Review: Transpecos
Border patrol officers get in over their heads in this tense thriller
By Kahron Spearman,
6:45PM, Mon. Mar. 14, 2016
There’s an adage about how pressure can burst pipes or craft diamonds. Transpecos puts three border patrol officers under maximum stress and quickly at odds with one another, and eventually their own morality.
The film – Austinite Greg Kwedar’s big-screen directorial debut – stars three strong leads. Clifton Collins Jr. – last seen in heist thriller Triple 9 – plays Lou Hobbs, a hard-boiled, half-stiff who pictures himself the epitome of law and order. Gabriel Luna plays Lance Flores, a young jack-of-all-trades, trying unsuccessfully to do right by all involved. Benjamin Davis is Johnny Simmons, a newbie whose secrets are quickly exposed. With plans gone awry, the unfortunate series of events tumble down into a straight-up clusterfuck.
Adequately mixing nuance with blunt forces, the weight of a checkpoint stop gone wrong squeezes each with different vice grips, in character-revealing ways. The film bubbles over and under, capturing isolation and togetherness on the same coin.
Rivaling the multiple star turns in Transpecos is one from someone not actually in the film. Cinematographer Jeffrey Waldron’s use of the open-air desert panoramas initially offer the atmosphere of freedom and autonomy. Proving false, the desert becomes a trap, a dusted prison, and unceremonious burial site. With nail-biting precision, Kwedar has crafted Transpecos into a diamond.
Narrative Feature Competition, World Premiere
Thursday, March 17, 10:45am, Alamo South Lamar