A Better Life (12A)
Starring: Demiá* Bichir, José Julián
Friday 29 July 2011
The surprise of this immigrant's tale is that it's directed not by, say, John Sayles but Chris Weitz, hot from the box-office sizzle of the Twilight saga.
Good for him that he's still willing to take on modest projects like this, even if it doesn't pack quite the punch one hopes for. Carlos (Demiá* Bichir) toils as an itinerant gardener, risking his life to trim perilously tall palm trees in the affluent suburbs of LA. Nobody pays him danger money, either – he's an illegal immigrant, part of the city's huge invisible (and uninsurable) workforce. A decent, hardworking man, Carlos wants something better for his teenage son Luis (José Julián), whose volatile moods are less worrying than his drift towards the fringes of Latino gang culture. The plot revolves around the purchase of a truck – Carlos's tentative step towards financial security – and the desperate search after it's stolen from under his nose. Will it be the occasion for a long-delayed filial bonding or the precursor to a greater calamity? Eric Eason's script aims for simplicity of expression, which sometimes sounds merely pat, or even banal, and the oppositional forces facing the poor immigrant – hardscrabble labour versus gang criminality – are somewhat crudely outlined. It is sincerely and honourably made, with a lovely performance by Bichir as the long-suffering Carlos, but a little more nuance would not have gone amiss.
TV reviewGrace Dent: Jimmy McGovern's new drama sheds light on sex slavery in the colonies
Eurovision 2015Australian Idol winner unveiled as representative Down Under
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Tourist films plane's descent just metres above packed Caribbean beach
- 2 Indian woman creates 'Marriage CV' after parents put her on dating site: 'Definitely not marriage material. Won’t grow long hair, ever'
- 3 World Book Day: Boy 'excluded' from school after dressing up as Fifty Shades' Christian Grey
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 5 GamerGate: developer Tim Schafer provokes rage with joke about online gaming activists at industry awards
The 9 rules every Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner cartoon had to follow are wonderfully pedantic
Toy Story 4: Pixar promises a romcom storyline 'separate' from the much-loved trilogy
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
World Book Day: Boy 'excluded' from school after dressing up as Fifty Shades' Christian Grey
The world's most beautiful libraries: Introducing Franck Bohbot's House of Books project
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Elif Shafak: Turkish author warns against rise of British nationalism
Ex-head of MI6: 'We shouldn't kid ourselves that Russia is on a path to democracy'
Most people think legal tax avoidance is just as wrong as illegal tax evasion, poll suggests