MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
Photo By Summit Entertainment
Directed by Paul Weitz. Starring Demian Bichir, Jose Julian
Carlos (Bichir) is a Mexican landscaper living in South L.A. who works hard and tries to be a good father to his son Luis (Julian) in their single-parent home. His partner Blasco (Joaquin Cosio) has saved enough money to get out of the business and return to Mexico, so Carlos has an opportunity to buy his truck. With the help of his sister, money is raised and the truck is purchased. All too soon, the vehicle is stolen and Carlos and Luis must go on a search to find it.
This would be a simpler story if Carlos and his friends weren’t undocumented workers. But lack of a green card means working for money under the table and driving without a license. Every day brings with it the risk of being arrested and sent back to Mexico. His son Luis is also cutting class, disrespecting his father, and hanging out with friends who are considering becoming gang members. The search for the missing truck is something that has the potential to bring father and son closer together.
A Better Life is a compassionate movie that shows us a world that most of us are unaware of – a community of restaurant workers, gardeners, local rodeos and territorial borders for street gangs. These are the “outsiders” that Jesus calls us to see as our brothers and sisters. We may never come to a satisfactory immigration policy in America but, for the time being, we may learn to understand that what most people long for is a place where you can live, work, raise a family and hope for a better life. You know – America.
Demian Bichir has been a finalist for most of the major acting awards (including the Academy Award) for good reasons. He gives a standout performance in a well-directed film filled with unforgettable characters. Take time to rent or borrow A Better Life, one of the overlooked gems of 2011.
Four halos: A heartbreaking and involving film about family values in the most desperate circumstances.
Two pitchforks:Occasional swearing, mild violence, recreational drug use.
Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
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