Other figures are active in the desert. There’s Alex (Olivia Trujillo), a teenage girl playing hooky from school, who comes across Elly in the afternoon before the plane crashes. Alex is strangely drawn to this older (but not by much) woman. Alex’s dad Jose (Nicholas Gonzalez) is a local sheriff, overwhelmed by what’s going on out in the desert. Then there’s Guillermo (Jorge A. Jimenez), a dangerous dude living in a trailer, picking up the drugs that arrive and moving them on through the distribution channels. When Jose fails to show up, Guillermo, fearing he’s been double-crossed, starts the hunt for the missing pilot.
These three story-lines trudge along on separate pathways until finally converging, in spurts of violence, on-foot chases, and mountain-canyon shoot-outs. Elly and Jose, forced to continue their journey on foot after a collision with a cactus, form an unusual bond.
The pace is often quite slow, with Elly and Jose’s meandering journey dominating. The slowness is not necessarily a problem. It allows space for the larger issues drowning these two characters, those serious bookended texts about the gigantism of the pharmaceutical problem. Watching their dynamic, one can imagine a very different kind of film, with no shoot-outs or car chases, a film that allows this relationship to develop beyond bullet-pointed backstories. Lucy Hale is believable in her struggle to survive (although she never shows any signs of being sweaty, despite staggering across the desert for two days under a blazing sun), and Leynar Gomez is heartbreaking as a man who isn’t really violent, but forced to it.