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By Merle Bertrand | March 23, 2000

It seems an unlikely rendezvous from the start. A couple of Cuban stowaways sneaking into New York City in search of a better life meets up with their contact Amy, who heads up an odd band of Communist ideologues which seems to be composed primarily of cute, over-sexed women. How she realistically expects to convert them to Communism by getting them low-paying jobs in capitalistic America is never really explained. When Orin enters the picture, a decent-looking Brit traveling to New York to connect with his nearly estranged father’s roots, it’s a mystery that’s soon ignored altogether. He, too, hooks up with Amy who apparently has a fondness for young Englishmen that extends well beyond mere ideological evangelism. It’s here, with a crucial, near-miraculously coincidental plot twist that I can’t reveal without utterly ruining the picture, that Eduardo Machado’s strange and mildly distasteful film runs off the tracks. From a film that promised a humanized, mostly sympathetic view of illegal immigration, “Exiles in New York” all too easily slips into a facetious romantic drama between Amy and Orin. None of the characters in this film are all that likable, making it difficult to work up a rooting interest in their welfare. The film is also needlessly padded with recurring Halloween footage, which is doubly frustrating given that some of that wasted running time could have been spent shoring up an ending that is as abrupt as it is wholly unsatisfying. Either that, or shown us more of the cute Commies.

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