REVIEW: A Better Life

A Better Life
Directed by: Chris Weitz
Written by: Eric Eason (screenplay), Roger L. Simon (story)
Starring: Demián Bichir,José Julián, Dolores Heredia and Carlos Linares

A Better Life is that movie that seemingly came out of nowhere and snagged a nomination for Best Actor at this year’s Oscars.  Its star, Demián Bichir, is a virtually unknown actor whose most prominent role was a lengthy stint on the marijuana dramedy Weeds.  His performance in this movie is an understated thing of beauty, much like fellow nominee Gary Oldman’s turn in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

Bichir plays Carlos Galindo, an illegal immigrant and single father making a living as a gardener in Los Angeles to support his troubled son Luis (José Julián).  Though putting immigration front and center makes the movie unavoidably political, at its heart A Better Life is a father/son legacy story.  Carlos plays that instantly recognizable parent character, the one who works his ass off so his child can have… a better life.

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