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A Better Life [DVD]

4.3 out of 5 stars 479 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Carlos Galindo always dreamed of a better life for his wife and newborn son when he crossed the border into the US.  But when his wife left him, Carlos's only goal became to make sure his son Luis was given the opportunities he never had.
From the director of About A Boy comes a touching, multi-generational story that follows father and son as they embark on a physical and spiritual journey where they discover that family is the most important part of the American dream.

Product Details

  • Actors: Demián Bichir
  • Directors: Chris Weitz
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Anamorphic, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    PG-13
    Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • Studio: Summit Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: October 18, 2011
  • Run Time: 97 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (479 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005HFI7IU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,424 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert G. Splaine Jr. on July 16, 2011
An illegal immigrant is raising his son in California, working as a day laborer. He buys a work truck, which is stolen from him. His dream of a better life for him and his boy are in danger unless he can get the truck back. This is a film that portrays a realistic view of life for people living in the U. S. without legal status and the pitfalls of living in a place where you have no legal rights. There is no preachy liberal immigrant-rights content here, but just a dramatic example of what many in this country experience on a daily basis. There is solid acting throughout, as this one is very well-done, and hopefully will find an audience.
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"A Better Life" is a poignant story about the struggle of an honest, profoundly decent man to survive as an illegal alien in LA. Utterly devoid of political posturing and moralizing, the film deals instead with the universal human yearning for security, stability, and at least some degree of happiness in one's life.

Completely devoted to his teenage son Luis (José Julián), Carlos Galindo (Demian Bichir) maintains his humanity and dignity in the face of greed, deception, and cruelty. The inescapable precariousness of his situation underscores the futility of Carlos' efforts to better the life of his son as well as to improve his own condition. The dream of owning a business, moving to a better neighborhood, and giving his son a good education remains just that - a dream. In the end, an illegal, Carlos submits himself to the law and accepts its harsh verdict of deportation only to attempt to cross the border again, this time to reunite with his son.

The film probably will not change anyone's views on immigration policy in this country, but it cannot leave any thinking person unmoved.
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A few months back (well, it's been a while now), our local Independent Theater was playing a special showing of `A Better Life' and so my wife and I snuck away from the kids to indulge in one of our favorite pastimes; movies. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but I had read good ink on Demian Bichir's performance and so I was excited to see what all the hype was about.

Wow; he was outstanding.

The film centers around an illegal immigrant named Carlos, working as a gardener in LA. He came to America with his wife and young son hoping to make a better life for them. Years later, he is raising his now teenage son alone, and his life really isn't that much better. He works hard, day in and day out, but he isn't making much headway. When a business opportunity presents itself, Carlos is hesitant to embrace it, but with a push from his sister he takes the leap, hoping that the payoff will be grand. In the meantime, his son is being persuaded by schoolmates to join a gang, and his growing frustration with his own situation is making him question his own loyalty to his father.

Sadly, `A Better Life' works better on paper than it does on film. When Bichir is not on the screen, the film falters; especially because the depiction of the gang and Carlos's son's friends are pretty clichéd and poorly acted. It takes you out of the gritty realism that Bichir brings to his role and his scenes. It felt like two separate films conflicting with one another; which is semi-understandable considering that Carlos and his son live in two separate worlds, but the cohesion needed to meld these two worlds together was missing. Bichir is remarkable though; a slow burning performance that grows in intensity but contains so much subtlety.
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A BETTER LIFE is one of the more understated films to come out of Hollywood, a film that has the courage to tell a story that is so politically charged - the immigration debate - that releasing it now is on the one hand asking for negative responses and on the other hand offers to the public the real truths behind our quandary about immigration. This country consists of immigrants - all of us - no matter how far back we have to trace our ancestry: the only people who did not begin their family history as immigrants from every country in the world and the Native Americans, and look how we are treating them! If this film does nothing else than plead the case of human understanding it will have accomplished more than legions of films that touch this subject too lightly.

Carlos Galindo (Demián Bichir, in an extraordinarily fine performance) crossed the border into the US with his new wife, looking for a way to improve his life. Upon arriving his wife gave birth to their son Luis (José Julián) and then promptly left Carlos in search of a better life, leaving Carlos to raise Luis alone. Carlos is an honest, caring man who must live in the shadow of being illegal: he cannot have a driver's license or papers that allow him the benefits of other people. Carlos has a steady job as a gardener with Blasco (Joaquín Cosio) who owns a truck and the two men work hard as gardeners.

When the film opens Carlos is saving is money from working with Blasco, living in a tiny house in the smarmy side of Los Angeles, trying to provide better schooling for his 15 year old Luis.
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2 Comments 30 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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