a better life movie essay
interest in the original versions from new audiences, older audiences that grew up watching these beloved classics have had mixed reactions to the remakes of their childhood favorites. This year’s Beauty and the Beast, an adaptation of the animated movie of the same name originally released in 1991, was received warmly by nostalgic audiences, highly criticized by those that disliked the changes to the plot or the casting, and even boycotted by those that believed there were controversial themes included
variety of immigrants. Undoubtedly, the majority of immigrants that seek lives within the U.S borders are from Mexico and most often embark on the journey to states in the Southwest such as Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, Nevada, and California. “A Better Life” takes place in East Los Angeles, California and tells the story of an undocumented man named Carlos, who has to struggle with the obstacles that come along with being illegal. The director, Chris Wietz, established a film that not only shined light
Luis is American enough to see violence as the easy remedy; Carlos long ago learned the pitfalls of “easy.” As the search for the thief and then the truck gets them deeper into troubling areas and tension mounts, the two winds up seeing each other’s point of view. But such understanding may come too late to save the family.
The relationship between father and son rests at times as much on what they don’t say as what they do. The two males are very different from one another and their different upbringings only partly account for this. Carlos’ deeds more than his words impact his son but not always in positive ways.
Carlos is an undocumented Mexican immigrant who works as a gardener tending the lawns of Los Angeles residents who are rich, especially from his point of view. He lives from hand to mouth and day to day in a tiny house whose garden is used to raise starter plants for his clients. His wife left some years ago, and he raises his 15-year-old son, Luis, by himself.
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Rated PG-13 for some violence, language and brief drug use
Making a virtue of simplicity and a vice of melodrama, A Better Life is a well-intentioned stab at something we rarely see in American movie theaters: the low-income family drama. This is a genre in which work — exhausting, repetitive, unreliable — is the story’s engine and the characters’ sole means of survival. For the characters in these films, holding on to a job or finding a better one takes precedence over anything life can throw at them.
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The film is set in the present day and told in a near even mix of Spanish and English that wavers between feeling natural and merely biculturally politically correct. The story is a familiar one: Carlos (Demián Bichir) crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally years ago and has spent a lifetime working as an off-the-books gardener. His son Luis (José Julián) was born here, and in addition to U.S. citizenship, he has all the sullenness of a typical American teenager. Mom bailed years ago, so it’s just the two of them left to deal with adolescence, a pervasive gang culture and Carlos’ fear of discovery.