A Better Life (2011)
Movie InfoFrom the director of About a Boy comes A Better Life - a touching, poignant, multi-generational story about a father's love and the lengths a parent will go to give his child the opportunities he never had. -- (C) Summit
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Critic Reviews for A Better Life
The didacticism takes the shine off Weitz's accomplishment, even if the film builds up enough empathy to generate slow-burning emotional impact.
Bichir delivers a powerful, nuanced performance as a stoic but complex character who treats everyone -- even those who have wronged him -- with a dignity he rarely receives.
The people here seem real, their world is shaky at best, and the political tension that permeates everything in this film feels palpable.
Personalizes the illegal immigrant experience and digs much deeper into what has become a national disgrace.
"A Better Life" might not change any minds about immigration policy, but it illuminates the conversation with context, compassion and understanding.
The film's beautiful simplicity is carried massively on the work of Demián Bichir, instantly and surely one of the best performances seen in 2011.
Well-acted, but quite over-hyped -- a melodramatic Mexican-American version of "Bicycle Thieves."
A Better Life's sense of place and eye for detail are strong, but the too-smooth style and rushed dramatics are at odds with the hardscrabble existence on display.
[A] gentle, honest, heartfelt film, but [it] does not have much to offer beyond an earnest respect for a segment of American society that is too often derided...
A well deserved Oscar nomination for Demian Bichir in a film with echoes of The Bicycle Thief.
Each sequence plays out in mind-numbingly cliched fashion: father-son lectures, chin-up resilience-especially the final shot-and a stern message about the heartless anti-immigration movement are depicted in an infuriatingly shallow manner.
Director Chris Weitz has done a credible job of bringing Roger Simon's story and Eric Eason's screenplay to cinematic life.
it's far too predictable and mundane to carry my interest through the rest of the film
Although the structure of the film is conventional, the ending of the film is not. Unlike most films, it does have a real hero, Carlos.
Essentially a variation on Vittorio De Sica's The Bicycle Thief, but it has a vitality and resonance all its own.
Modest as A Better Life may be in scope, it commits wholeheartedly to achieving the goal of socially conscious cinema: to make visible the previously unseen.
A movingly simple and simply moving father-son drama set in downtown LA, refreshingly free of pretentious narrative pyrotechnics. Have a hankie up your sleeve and hang your cynicism up at the door.
The sentimental saga of a father and son's stoical struggle against impossible odds.
It's a small, convincing, tightly constructed movie about an urgent, seemingly insoluble problem.
A compassionate, sensitive look at the precarious lives of those off the grid.
It speaks well enough about the fate of immigrants everywhere, especially those who want to work hard but end up being exploited.
Audience Reviews for A Better Life
Looks at a very real problem with an excellent script that keeps your interest, plays with your emotions, and has some very real insights into a problem incomprehensible to the average American. Shows a son's developing pride for a father who's strength was hidden, even from his son. Academy Award Best Actor nominee Demián Bichir for the part of the father....A very touching film.More
The performance given by Demián Bichir is the absolute definitive highlight of A BETTER LIFE. I wouldn't say he quite deserved to win the Oscar for Best Actor (there were better performances this past year by George Clooney and Jean Dujardin), but he most certainly deserved the nomination that he did get. Bichir may be the only actual cast member who manages to deliver a convincing and authentic role in this entire film, especially when compared to the performance of José Julián as his character's son. It is quite easy to find Galindo as a likeable character and even an agreeable one; this factor seems oddlyenhanced (rather than the opposite) by the fact that he is an illegal immigrant. Had the story been the same, except not about illegal immigrants, and Bichir replaced by another actor, the film would have been a mess.
Every father wants more for his son
This subtle dramatic film is extremely powerful and moving. The sincere realistic tone the movie carries allows us to really understand the difficulties the characters go through and cheer for them to have a better life.
Carlos Galindo (Bichir) is an immigrant gardener in Los Angeles who searches for a better life for himself and his son who faces the difficulties and dilemma of entering a gang. The movie realistically portrays the troubles of Mexican immigrants in the United States, but most importantly show a legit love story between father and son.
This movie is wonderfully composed. Weitz uses his subtle and realistic tone to bring out a depressing yet beautiful story. Not only is the story and the style in which the movie is done brilliant. This movie has some of the most powerful performances of the year. Both Bichir and Julian are extraordinary. They develop complex characters and true chemistry, that as you follow these characters steps you hope just the best for them. The movie is composed with emotional scenes that are tear jerkers. In all honesty I felt the Academy Award made a big mistake by not giving Bichir an award.
This movie is great, beautiful and real, don't miss it. Warning! viewers might be exposed to extreme sadness.
Carlos Galindo: " That's why I had you. For me. For a reason to live."
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