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The Harvest Review 

Thursday, Aug 4 2011
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There's not a wasted frame in U. Roberto Romano's documentary The Harvest, in which he illustrates the real costs of the produce on your grocer's shelves. Volatile political issues (immigration matters, the imploding economy) all play out in the day-to-day struggles faced by three Latino kids and their families as they crisscross the country "chasing harvests." They gather tomatoes, strawberries, etc., for just pennies a pound, and it is backbreaking work. Romano doesn't beat you over the head in order to break your heart or prick your conscience; there's no overbearing music to manipulate your emotions or showy editing to bombard your senses. The drama (unlike the produce) is organic, and it doesn't need showboating to grab you. Romano, using long takes and quiet moments, focuses his camera on the micro (educations that fall by the wayside, familial tensions that simmer) as it's shaped by the macro (racism, poverty). The kids at the film's center - 12-year-old Zulema, 14-year-old Perla and 16-year-old Victor - haven't chalked up much classroom time, owing to heping their families in the fields, but they're insightful and eloquent when breaking down the forces working against them. One of the film's most powerful moments: A family is shopping at a market when the mom observes they can't afford the produce they helped harvest.

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