review for El Norte on AllMovie

El Norte (1983)
by Mark Deming review

While any number of films have been made about plucky immigrants who come to the United States, few possess the plain-spoken honesty and simple emotional power of Gregory Nava's El Norte, at once a moving testimony to the thirst for freedom and a sobering look at the tragic consequences that the search for a better life can sometimes bring. Director Nava draws strikingly naturalistic performances from his entire cast (especially Zaide Silvia Gutierrez and David Villalpando), and his eloquently straightforward narrative style tells this story with few frills but a remarkable emotional impact. Blending humor, drama, suspense, and eventually tragedy, there are few films that say more about what America truly means than El Norte, which shows (for good and ill) how important this country is to those who left the land of their birth to live in this nation of immigrants.