Saturday, 30 July 2011

[490] A Better Life (2011) Review

All joking and snobbery aside, why do we watch films from other countries? They so often tell stories which are, by their nature, foreign to our experience, and represent lifestyles that exist far outside the context of our day-to-day doings. The assumption is that the broadening of horizons leads to greater cultural awareness, and also a greater global appreciation of cinema as an artform.

Sadly, illegal immigrant drama, A Better Life, doesn't tick either of those artistic boxes, and it's rather curious that it has been internationally distributed at all. It tells the two-pronged story of Carlos (Demián Bichir), a hard working gardener, and Luis (José Julián), his teenage son, as they live the uneasy existence which the American Dream has become for Mexican residents in California.

Without citizenship, Carlos toils away at laborious cash-in-hand jobs, dreaming of one day being able to afford the expensive legal procedure that would grant him a visa. A glimmer of hope appears when a workmate decides to up sticks, and puts his van up for sale, offering Carlos the chance to run his own business. At great personal risk, he takes the opportunity.

But this wouldn't be an ‘issues film' if things came easily, as on the first day of this new venture, the van is stolen, leaving Carlos penniless and hopeless. To make matters worse, his son is developing a bad case of ‘teenage prat' syndrome, spurning his father's diligent attempts at single parent life in favour of cracking wise and eyeing up tattoo-heavy drug dealers.

Read the full article here.

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