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Crossing the border, crossing the line

Eniac Martinez/Tribeca Film Festival

Abbie Cornish delivers a strong, internalized performance almost as spare as the title in “The Girl” (2013), a drama about a single mother facing heartbreaking struggles on both sides of the Texas-Mexico border. Cornish (the Aussie lead of “Bright Star” and “W.E.”) plays Ashley, a minimum-wage slave who’s lost custody of her young son, and is also beginning to lose hope of ever getting him back from foster care. When her good-times trucker father (Will Patton, “Falling Skies”) invites her along on one of his regular shipping runs over the border, she realizes that his recent windfall has come from smuggling illegals in his tractor trailer. Desperate, Ashley gets an idea: get in on this “coyote” racket herself, and quickly pull together the financial means to reunite with her little boy. But when her scheme goes tragically awry, Ashley finds herself reluctantly responsible for a small Mexican girl (Maritza Santiago Hernandez) in danger of being swallowed up by the system. (If the film has a fault, it’s that Ashley’s dilemma is so all-enveloping, we occasionally lose sight of her social-services problem back home.) Can she pull herself together to do the right thing? Scenes of Cornish resentfully, guiltily vacillating, sometimes wordlessly, really do keep us guessing. Extras: In a featurette, writer-director David Riker shares some of his extensive border-town research. Riker displays an almost photojournalistic sensibility, one that clearly figured into the film’s unforced, naturalistically gritty aesthetic. (Virgil Films, $19.99)



RCR Distribution

David Duchovny in "Phantom."

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Sure, as the classic sitcom’s title character, goofily charming teen dreamer Dobie, Dwayne Hickman gets a bright, bold picture on the box of this 147-episode set. But our focus is on the guy pictured with him: Hickman’s screen buddy, Bob Denver. If you’ve ever wondered why older family members or friends seem to put equal viewing weight on Denver’s comedy stylings as Gilligan and original TV beatnik Maynard G. Krebs, here’s your chance to find out. Not to mention get a look at Warren Beatty as Dobie’s privileged rival. Extras: pilot footage; additional sitcom work from Hickman and castmate Sheila “Zelda” James. (Shout! Factory, $139.99)


PHANTOM (2013)

Writer-director Todd Robinson generates some engrossing tension with a crazy-provocative premise, speculating that a vanished Soviet Cold War submarine was the test vessel for a cloaking device, and that the episode nearly triggered World War III. But the plot is dragged down by a script filled with awkward exposition and blunt audience cues. Ed Harris is the service-weary sub commander in charge; David Duchovny is an enigmatic tagalong clearly up to something. (Fox, $22.99; Blu-ray, $29.99, available now)

Titles are in stores Tuesday unless specified. Tom Russo can be reached at
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