- Reviewed from the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.
At the Ready focuses on the journey of three Mexican-American students in their senior year at high school in El Paso. Living on the U.S-Mexico border, they are taking part in a youth outreach initiative led by El Paso police, and have ambitions of working in border control and law enforcement.
As they enact drug raids and hostage situations in the school’s corridors, there is a sense that, in the adrenalin buzz of performance, the traumatic potential and ethical questions are wilfully excluded by those in charge.
Adrian Quesada’s brilliant original score subtly evokes Spaghetti Western tension and director Maisie Crow deftly folds broader politics into their story: the brutal Trump administration and attitude towards border control; the separation of children from their guardians in detention centres; the Mexican-American community in El Paso and proximity of relatives over the border in Juarez.
Well-paid job security makes a career in law enforcement attractive, and the film observes as the teenagers begin to connect to their own identities and values, and consider how they align with those demonstrated by the system.
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