"A Better Life"

I didn't know much about A Better Life before seeing the movie, except it had about an 85% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which is pretty good. It turned out to be a heartbreaking, sad movie, but with characters that you will think about long after the movie has ended.

Carlos Galindo (Demián Bichir, TV's "Weeds") is an illegal alien who has lived in the U.S. for a while now, and his son Luis (newcomer José Julián) was born in this country. Carlos works as a gardener in the hopes that one day, he and Luis can move out of their unsafe Los Angeles neighborhood, and Luis can go to a better school. Carlos has no form of transportation, and when his friend goes to sell his truck, complete with gardening tools, he asks his sister for a loan, in the hopes that he will have his own gardening business. His first day with the truck, he hires another illegal, Santiago (Carlos Linares, "Where the Road Meets the Sun"), to work for him; however, when he is climbing a palm tree, Santiago steals the keys to the truck and Carlos's cell phone and takes off with it. Carlos and Luis must find Santiago and the truck, because the truck and the business is their only hope for having a better life.

Maybe see this movie. The film is definitely an eyeopener to how bad conditions are for illegal immegrants. Carlos tries very hard to make a more secure life for him and Luis, but negative things keep happening to him. Luis is very Americanized - he has an iPod, and all of his friends are in gangs, and are encouraging him to join - and Carlos doesn't want him to get caught up with gangs and ruin his life.

The film was very sad, especially the ending, but it also had a coherent plot and a definite storyline. The end is a bit "open-ended," and it made me wonder what eventually happened to the characters, especially Carlos and Luis. I say "Maybe" see the film because it is a bit slow, even though it's only about an hour and a half long; if you enjoy "slice of life"-type films that tell an interesting story, however, you will like A Better Life.

A Better Life is in theaters today, July 15th, and is locally playing at the Maple Art Theater.

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