An illegal immigrant who works hard to provide for his teenage son finds himself struggling to protect him from the influence of LA gangs. A strongly conceived and compelling drama that's puts a human face on a complicated and contentious issue. A bit tidy perhaps, but thoroughly engaging and even moving. Demian Bichir's performance is aces.
This could have been a decent film if it was only about the father and his hardships and interactions - although even those were ridiculous at times. Who leaves their keys in the car when it's your life and you have a complete stranger with you? Every scene with the son or gang members made me cringe from bad dialogue and even worse acting. Good direction and a good performance from Bichir helps, but not enough.
Meh, the struggling life of an ilegal immigrant working to give a better life to his only "americanized" son. At the end we can conclude that half of the film was about the "intense" pursuit of a truck.
Somewhere between the goopy, head-patting problem-film-isms of the dread Stanley Kramer and the indelible neo-neorealism of the Dardennes lies this by turns genuinely moving and transparently oversimplified, sheltered-liberal-gringo-flattering piece of work.
I chose to watch it due to the Oscar nomination of the protagonist and indeed I saw a very powerful performance of this stoic and dignified Mexican immigrant in the USA trying to provide a better life for his son. However, outside this noteable performance the film is both predictable and full of clichés and thus will quickly be forgotten.
Not since Tokyo Story a film became pitch perfect in its depiction of raw human emotion. Minimalist direction without the trappings of conscious simplification and subtle notion of reality. Perhaps, one of the best "overlooked" films in the last 10 years. Demian Bichir is the real darkhorse to win the Oscar for Best male lead.
A well made, affecting movie about a parent's love and a child's reluctant recognition of that love. Modeled loosely, it seems, on the classic "The Bicycle Thief", "A Better Life" is solidly modern, addressing issues and concerns of our time while maintaining timeless relevance to the human condition.