A Better Life – Film Review

As a veteran viewer of several excellent Spanish language films about the UA/Mexico border, I approached A Better Life, from director Chris Weitz with some trepidation. How would a film by a US director and writer (Roger Simon) compare to the stories by their Mexican counterparts? Would the Hollywood gloss detract from the story and minimize it down to a cliché? I need not have worried too much as the film delivers strong performances and does not end with a pretty bow on top.

Films such as La Misma Luna (Under the Same Moon) from 2007, have examined the bond between parents and their children, often separated by the border, but a mainstream film dealing with the hot button issue of immigration, as the primary focus, is bound to be divisive. This film may have a hard time finding an audience, which is a shame as smaller films that have come before it did not have big studio marketing budgets to get the word out about its charms.

The story involves a Mexican gardener, Carlos Galindo (Demian Bichir), who is trying to make a better life for himself and his 14 year-old son Luis (Jose Julian) despite their lack of citizenship. When the opportunity to move up in the world by buying his employers truck arises, Carlos borrows his sister’s life savings to make the deal despite his reservations. Meanwhile, Luis is tempted at school by potential gang membership, as a way to improve his lot in life. Luis is just one bad decision away from throwing his future away and possibly his life which could all be avoided if he and his father can get

 A Better Life is playing at Landmark Cinemas at El Con Mall starting July 8, 3601 E. Broadway Boulevard. For showtimes visits Cinemark.com.

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About Herb Stratford

Arts and culture writer and film reviewer. Historic theatre restoration consultant. Artist and arts educator.
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