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'Frontera' is a moving drama starring Ed Harris, Eva Longoria and Michael Peña

Frontera” is a moving thriller about the harsh realities for those who try to immigrate across the border from Mexico into the United States.

Ed Harris
Ed Harris
Magnolia Pictures

Eva Longoria plays Paulina, the pregnant wife of Miguel (Michael Peña). They work long hours where they live in Mexico. They are poverty stricken and desperate. Miguel sets off on the arduous journey to sneak into the U.S. and find work. His ridiculously irresponsible stoner cousin, Jose (Michael Ray Escamilla), goes with him.

The two set off in the unyielding heat across the thirsty desert. A local woman from Arizona named Olivia (Amy Madigan) crosses paths with them. She brings her horse to a stop and offers them a blanket. Olivia is the wife of retired sheriff Roy (Ed Harris, Madigan’s real-life husband) and she's well aware of the tough road they have ahead of them. She's seen many Mexicans come through before. She and Roy live right at the border.

Their ill-fated journey comes to jolting stop when a bullet fired from an anonymous rifle kills Olivia. Aden Young (TV’s “Rectify”) plays Sheriff Randall Hunt. He arrives at the scene and arrests Miguel for Olivia's murder.

Paulina hasn’t heard from Miguel. She is well aware of the dangers of trying to cross the border and she's terrified that something horrible has happened to Miguel or she would've heard from him. She's panicked and seeks out Ramon (Julio Cedillo, of TV’s “The Bridge”). He is what's called the head "coyote." The tall and beefy man takes groups of Mexicans across the border for money.

Paulina manages to scrape together just enough cash to pay Cedillo. Not only is their trip illegal, it's extremely dangerous and Paulina is in way over her head. Longoria gives a powerful performance in her first Spanish-speaking role. You've never seen the high glamour actress looking like this. Kudos to her for taking on such a gritty and demanding character.

There are many moments of holding your breath and fearing the worst. Some of those fears are realized in what these unfortunate poor people have to live through. Illegal immigration is such a hot topic now and what is so special about the storyline is that it shows the complex issues for people on both sides.

Writer, director and actor Michael Berry assembled an expert cast, and the powerful film delivers high drama and chilling thrilling action.

“Frontera” is currently available on iTunes and On Demand and opens in theaters on Friday, Sept. 5, 2014. Rated PG-13. 103 min.