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Lingua Franca

Olivia (played by the director, Isabel Sandoval), a trans woman, is a Filipino undocumented immigrant in Brooklyn who is a caretaker for a lady who is suffering from dementia. As her options for getting a green card become fewer, she meets Alex, Olga’s grandson, and a relationship develops between the two. I enjoyed this movie. It was nice seeing a film about a trans woman directed by a trans woman who plays the lead character in the film. There are two things I enjoyed most about the film. First, it is an interesting and believable character study of what it must be like to live in fear of immigration in America under the current president. The constant fear of someone tipping off immigration, or the risk of making a trip to the market, is always there. Second, while the relationship between Alex and Olivia was not always very believable, when it was, it worked as a story of two people who are trying to make a better life for themselves. The sense of place and time was well executed; it reminded me in some ways of the films of Ramin Bahrani (Man Push Cart) in how the films capture people living on the margins and how much of a part of the fabric of life in the city they are. Thumbs up from me for a film that isn’t perfect but one whose story is sensitively told and generally well-acted. (2019; 3.5 Stars)

About Gary Burkholder

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