STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

'Icebox' offers chilling tale of young asylum seeker's journey

Beyond timely, "Icebox" is a wrenching, harrowing movie about one Honduran boy's quest for asylum, and the c...

Posted: Dec 6, 2018 6:05 AM
Updated: Dec 6, 2018 6:05 AM

Beyond timely, "Icebox" is a wrenching, harrowing movie about one Honduran boy's quest for asylum, and the conditions he faces after being apprehended in the United States. Acquired by HBO, the spare project from first-time writer-director Daniel Sawka weds the stark feel and look of a documentary with the emotional wallop that comes from drama.

Working with filmmaker James L. Brooks' Grace Films, Sawka expanded his American Film Institute thesis short (notably shot in 2016) into a feature, but like his young protagonist, the movie covers an inordinate amount of ground in relatively quick fashion.

Immigration

Immigration, citizenship and displacement

International relations and national security

Political asylum

Arts and entertainment

Movies

The 12-year-old Oscar ("Coco's" Anthony Gonzalez, whose face speaks volumes) has been forced to work for a drug gang, and now must flee for his life. His parents dispatch him on the journey through Mexico to the U.S., warning him not to trust anyone. The goal is to reach his uncle (Omar Leyva), who is living and working outside Phoenix.

Fear of exploitation and betrayal haunts his every step, eventually forcing Oscar to take off on foot across the desert. That portion of the ordeal, however, runs second to what he faces once taken into custody, thrown into what looks like an industrial warehouse, where the children huddle together to try to find some warmth, literally as well as figuratively.

Oscar makes a friend, but he's also bullied by a bigger kid, and generally frantic about finding a way out -- seeking help from a reporter (Genesis Rodriguez) who tours the facility. The children are separated by chain-link fences, in a cavernous space that Oscar accurately describes as "a big building, full of kids."

Sawka lets the kids be kids, and when Oscar gets a chance to phone home, just hearing him say "Mommy" -- or talk wistfully about going to school -- is devastating. So, too, is his explanation for why he can't return home, simply responding, "Bad people."

Shot almost entirely in Spanish, a movie like "Icebox" will likely end up merely preaching to the already converted; still, it's such a sobering look at the immigration system that HBO -- even with its reputation for championing progressive causes -- deserves praise for recognizing its importance.

Like the best drama, "Icebox" is defined by its humanity, putting a face on asylum seekers in a way news coverage only occasionally does. From that perspective it feels like HBO is performing a public service, even if those who would most benefit from seeing the movie will almost surely be inclined to look away from its chilling message.

"Icebox" premieres Dec. 7 at 8 p.m. on HBO. Like CNN, the network is a unit of WarnerMedia.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 10395

Reported Deaths: 215
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah252969
Marion166148
Washington162020
Clackamas86125
Umatilla7726
Union3561
Lincoln3464
Lane2283
Deschutes2210
Malheur2161
Polk16012
Linn1579
Jackson1520
Yamhill1398
Jefferson1340
Klamath1301
Morrow1071
Benton955
Hood River940
Wasco941
Josephine561
Clatsop540
Douglas510
Columbia420
Coos420
Lake210
Tillamook150
Crook130
Wallowa100
Curry80
Baker50
Sherman30
Gilliam10
Grant10
Harney10
Unassigned00
Wheeler00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 271035

Reported Deaths: 6441
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles1165703534
Riverside20555486
Orange17882366
San Diego16726387
San Bernardino15345269
Imperial7190117
Alameda6855140
Fresno611077
Santa Clara5408164
Kern536982
Tulare5009136
San Joaquin447455
Sacramento423669
San Francisco399250
Contra Costa387885
Ventura378950
San Mateo3599108
Santa Barbara326129
Marin280921
Kings267333
Stanislaus266045
Monterey215115
Solano147625
Sonoma135911
Merced127211
Placer91111
San Luis Obispo7652
Yolo67726
Madera5785
Santa Cruz4593
Napa4364
San Benito2732
Sutter2523
Lassen2420
El Dorado2260
Butte2063
Shasta1544
Humboldt1444
Nevada1291
Yuba1282
Glenn1220
Lake961
Tehama881
Mendocino850
Colusa700
Del Norte581
Calaveras530
Mono471
Tuolumne430
Amador330
Inyo331
Siskiyou320
Mariposa311
Plumas110
Alpine20
Trinity20
Sierra10
Unassigned00
Medford
Scattered Clouds
76° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 76°
Brookings
Clear
69° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 69°
Crater Lake
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 70°
Grants Pass
Scattered Clouds
73° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 73°
Klamath Falls
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 70°
Warming up the rest of the week
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events