Sawka lets the kids be kids, and when Oscar gets a chance to phone home, just hearing him say “Mommy” — or talk wistfully about going to school — is devastating. So, too, is his explanation for why he can’t return home, simply responding, “Bad people.”
Shot almost entirely in Spanish, a movie like “Icebox” will likely end up merely preaching to the already converted; still, it’s such a sobering look at the immigration system that HBO — even with its reputation for championing progressive causes — deserves praise for recognizing its importance.
Like the best drama, “Icebox” is defined by its humanity, putting a face on asylum seekers in a way news coverage only occasionally does. From that perspective it feels like HBO is performing a public service, even if those who would most benefit from seeing the movie will almost surely be inclined to look away from its chilling message.
“Icebox” premieres Dec. 7 at 8 p.m. on HBO. Like CNN, the network is a unit of WarnerMedia.