The United States has millions of residents living illegally within its borders; you have had to be entombed not to realize the epidemic of concerns, both political and humane this has caused the government in recent years. Approximately 55% of illegal’s come from Mexico ( numbers vary between 6 and 7 million in residence at this time) a vast majority reside in the state of California.
They walk, swim, crawl, covered in suffocating trucks, cars; they are desperately poor, illiterate, hopeless, pregnant, searching, wanting a taste, a bite of “a better life” for themselves and their children.
This fine film focuses on the plight of a father and son barely existing in a gang- infested neighborhood in Los Angeles. “A Better Life” is a touching, poignantly realistic portrait of two people you grow to love and respect. Demian Bichir, “Carlos” gives a stellar performance as the father who will sacrifice and do anything for his son “Luis”, an equally powerful performance by Jose Julian. Blood binds them; citizenship divides them.
This magnificent movie produced by Chris Weitz (“About a Boy”) is devoid of sentimentality, gives a human face to the challenges of people living basically without an identity, minimally surviving on a few paltry dollars a day; loving with the same intensity as all men do for their children; willing to sacrifice everything, with the exception of dignity, for the health, education and safety of their family. Carlos sleeps fully clothed, exhausted from his exertions as a landscaper, on a ratty couch, while Luis is allowed the fantasies of a teenager in the privacy of the sole bedroom. A pristine example of a love unhindered by even a flicker of self- indulgence or righteousness. The evolution of their relationship is the crux, potency of the plot.
“A Better Life’ is a jewel of a film and leaves the viewer richer, wiser, questioning boundaries, borders, not just geographically, but metaphorically; Carlos and Luis should be united, legitimatized, not disenfranchised from society.
Leaving proud, and blessed that because of an accident of birth I am a US citizen; a country often maligned, denigrated, but one people risk death to enter, and once here, never want to leave. Over the years our diverse huddled masses have gifted humanity countless medical, cultural, scientific miracles; there are limitless opportunities for those with talent, ambition, unchained goals; adversity creates hearty, feisty spirits; all are not guaranteed success, but all are given the chance to aim and strive for the pinnacle.
FOUR & 1/2 STARS!!!!