Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Better Life

"A Better Life" is a film that I stumbled across on an airplane. Having seen so many films this year, I was actually surprised that the airplane had something that I hadn't seen yet (for the record the return flight did have "No Strings Attached"). "A Better Life" premiered at some festivals, but didn't make a big run in the theaters. Chris Weitz directed the film and shows that he is much more than the comedies and children films that he is usually connected with.

The story is about Carlos (Demián Bichir), a single father who is an illegal immigrant and a gardener in East L.A. struggling to give a better life to his son, Luis (José Julián). Luis is a teen that has his own difficulties that he is battling with between the path that his friends are pushing him towards and the respectable family that his aunt and father want for him. The story has been done before, but the inclusion of the immigrant father makes for an interesting dynamic that contributes to the misunderstandings between Carlos and Luis. However, with all the challenges of raising a son it is clear that he is willing to do whatever it takes to give his son the opportunities he never had. This leads Carlos to buying a truck to start his own business and earn more money.

Even with a simple and predictable script, the film was refreshing to see the real life struggles as compared to the unfulfilled Hollywood dramatization of what life is usually represented as in film. The performance from Demián Bichir was powerful and deserving of a best actor nomination. The film should be considered among the best foreign language films as well and receives a 4 Quack rating.

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