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MOVIE REVIEW: A Better Life

An illegal immigrant works to provide for his son

  • A Better Life
  • Demin Bichir as Carlos Riquelme in "A Better Life."
  • Demin Bichir as Carlos Riquelme in "A Better Life."
  • A Better Life
  • (L-R) Jos Julin, Chris Weitz and Demin Bichir on the set of "A Better Life."
  • (L-R) Jos Julin, Chris Weitz and Demin Bichir on the set of "A Better Life."
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In A Better Life, Demian Bichir (most notably from Showtime's Weeds) does a great job playing an illegal immigrant and gardener in this movie, but the rest of the cast didn’t seem authentic.When his son (Jose Julian) is with classmates or they’re talking to gang members, it all seemed forced. It felt like watching Stand and Deliver – but instead of a teacher with a great heart, it’s a gardener.

There were so many unauthentic moments in this film. One of this is when the gardener is being driven home by his boss, and his sad eyes look out the window at all the various happy families: the rabbi, the jogger, the rich woman with foo foo dog, the Mexican family from the middle class neighborhood – until he arrives at his home. There are gang members on the corner of his tiny one-bedroom apartment where his son sits bitterly on the couch hating his lot in life.

None of this seemed like what a day in the life of a gardener would be like.

Director Chris Weitz was behind the movie About a Boy.He also did American Pie, The Golden Compass, and a Twilight film.

The press materials state the movie used some former gang members. This adds nothing to the authenticity. Remember how we heard that Michael Jackson used real gang members for his "Beat It" video? Did that make it cool, or did it look like something from a more modern West Side Story?

This script lacks a lot, and the whole story felt like an afterschool special.I’d suggest your rent a similar story,The Bicycle Thief. It’s an Italian classic from the late '40s that holds up nicely today.

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  • Rating: 1 of 5