Well-acted, but quite over-hyped -- a melodramatic Mexican-American version of "Bicycle Thieves."
| Original Score: 2/4
A Better Life is a half-step removed from the Hallmark Hall of Fame.
| Original Score: B-
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.
| Original Score: C+
[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...
The silver lining is an excellent lead performance from Bichir.
A well deserved Oscar nomination for Demian Bichir in a film with echoes of The Bicycle Thief.
| Original Score: 3/4
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.
| Original Score: 32/100
Director Chris Weitz has done a credible job of bringing Roger Simon's story and Eric Eason's screenplay to cinematic life.
| Original Score: 3.5/5
it's far too predictable and mundane to carry my interest through the rest of the film
| Original Score: 2.5/5
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.
| Original Score: B
A sympathetic tale about an illegal Mexican.
Essentially a variation on Vittorio De Sica's The Bicycle Thief, but it has a vitality and resonance all its own.
| Original Score: 4.5/5
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.
| Original Score: 3/5
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.
| Original Score: 4/5
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.
Emotionally engaging immigrant drama enlivened by strong performances from its two leads, but it's slightly undone by an overly predictable script that prevents any real surprises.
Bichir carries it all with a measured performance of considerable emotion as the dad, clenched by so many years holding his breath, waiting for the knock at the door.