Ramon Hamilton’s SMUGGLED (2012) – Review


Humble beginnings.

Writer/Director Ramon Hamilton‘s debut film depicts a harrowing journey for a 9-year-old boy and his mother on a trip to the United States beneath a tour bus from Mexico. Smuggled presents a detailed introspective into the hot topic issue of illegal immigration by giving the audience a plausible scenario in which many individuals may experience during illicit route to the United States. The film personifies the controversial issue through the eyes of a young boy named Miguel (Ramsess Letrado) and his mother Hilaria (Denisse Bon) who are headed to the States to reunite with father and husband.

Officer Salmon (Garrett Marchbank), while off-duty, stops a young boy outside of a grocery store stealing food.  With the help of a fellow officer Barrera (Cisco Marcial) to interpret, they find out the young boy’s name is Miguel Rodriguez, and that he and his mother hid in a small compartment beneath a tour bus and crossed the border into the United States illegally. What Miguel and his mother Hilaria experienced during the trip is explained through his dramatic retelling of their journey.

Miguel’s relationship with his mother is explored during the intensely emotional story.  Both Letrado and Bon characters successfully demonstrate genuine on-screen relationship which easily pulls in the viewing audience into their difficult situation. Nearly the entire film takes place within the small container the mother and son shares for a number of days. Carefully portioning rations of bread and water to survive the long trip. They make use of an empty container as well as a plastic bag, to serve as makeshift toilets.  Unfortunately, tragedy strikes near the end of the film that brings to light the substantial risk many take-ups during the grueling trip across the U.S. – Mexico border. The humanity shown between these two characters is impeccable. The ending, though predictable,  serves as an appropriate end to an unfortunate situation.

Overall, Smuggled does create an open dialogue concerning the adverse situational realities of illegal immigration.


Smuggled received 15 Film Festival Official Selections and won 5 Awards in 2012.

  • Best Feature at the Reel Rasquache Art and Film Festival
  • Best Drama at the Mexico International Film Festival
  • Best Narrative Film at the Great Lakes International Film Festival
  • Best Narrative Feature at the Third World Independent Film Festival
  • Founders Award at the Riverside International Film Festival

Smuggled is currently available instantly through Vimeo On Demand  and a DVD will be available soon. Make sure you like Smuggled on Facebook are following @Smuggledthefilm or @Ramon_Hamilton on Twitter to stay up to date with the DVD release and upcoming screening events. In May, there will be several screening events in Los Angeles and Chicago.

Images, trailer and synopsis courtesy of @smuggledthefilm and Think Ten Media Group. All rights are reserved.

  • Editor Rating

  • Rated 3 stars
  • Good

  • Reviewed by:
  • Published on:
  • Last modified: 2015-01-15

Review Summary:

SMUGGLED tells the story of a 9 year-old boy and his mother as they are smuggled into the United States in a hidden compartment underneath a tour bus.

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