Reviewed by Adam Donato
One of the most controversial topics in American politics is what to do with immigrants and securing the border. Maisie Crow tackles this topic in an indirect manner that gives a poignant perspective on how these issues affect real Americans. At an El Paso high school, students aspire to have a career in border patrol. The story follows these children who are torn with an inner conflict. Do they pursue one of the only viable careers that make close to the national average or do they become morally compromised?
Towards the beginning of the documentary, the impression is that this takes place during the Obama administration, but is immediately taken over by Trump and his new policies when it comes to border patrol. This political impact on their field is one of the more interesting aspects of the movie. It gives the story more of a sense of urgency. There are scenes where the children in school debate over policies. This is all well and good, but the impending election seems to add more stake to the situation. Many prominent members of the doc voice their opinions and internal struggles with their vote. Regardless of party, it is interesting to hear what really matters when it comes to the vote of real Americans.
This political impact is coupled with the personal problems of the children. The leader of the group of children is a young girl who identifies as a member of the LGBTQ community. Seeing her try to articulate how this fact impacts her relationships with her friends and family. Crow really does a good job of getting you to root for these kids. Go make your money and be successful, but also be happy. That’s one of the sadder aspects of the doc. The overwhelming majority of people in the program are Hispanic. They speak about their trials and tribulations with their field. Hearing them spin the situation into something positive is almost enduring. The doc does a great job of showing these kids off as real people with clearly defined personal problems that will have a major impact on their lives.
Experiencing the life of the children is great, but it’s so much less interesting to watch what their classes are like. There’s parts of the movie that feel like you're watching a virtual lecture. No disrespect to the teachers, but these scenes drag. There’s no music or anything. That being said, that does sound like what it’s like to be in a high school classroom.
The job of a documentary is to show a new perspective on an interesting situation. Showing how the border crisis impacts future generations and seeing how their opinions are being formed is compelling. Politics are boring, but this documentary makes the situation understandable and relatable from both sides. There’s plenty of good food for thought here and At The Ready is certainly worth a watch.
At the Ready hits theaters and VOD on October 22.