Under the Same Moon Reviews
Under the Same Moon is about a Mexican boy crossing the Mexico/US Border to reunite with his mother. The story itself is not anything new, but it does it well sometime taking in our characters in a different direction and unfortunately in clichés territory. Sure the clichés could be annoying as we seen them time and time again, but the movie doesn't rely too heavily on them to avoid becoming predictable. This movie does switch between two characters, one being a boy looking for his mother and the other being a mother struggles in America. Both are well written and very believable. Though I will say the son side of the movie does have some filler and the mother side is not as interesting since she primarily an adult who's knows how to take care of herself while her son is not. While it certainly won't captivate everyone the same way, it's certainly a story with a lot of heart between the main characters.
The cast might be unknown to some us, but their performances help elevate the material from being average. Adrian Alonso is actually a good child actor whose performance does outshine most of the adults of the movie and he'll definitely grow on you like he did me. Kate Del Castillo stole the show from pretty much everyone in the movie; it's only unfortunate that her character side of the story wasn't as well written. The direction while it works could have been better, though it's worth complaining since it's still turned out good. If you listen to Spanish music you'll be happy with the selection of music in the movie and appearance by a popular band.
Under the Same Moon is a heartfelt story that's made better with the cast performances. It might not be anything new sure, but it's still worth a watch.
The film follows dual stories of a Mexican boy named Carlito (Adrian Alonso) and his mother Rosario (Kate del Castillo) who?s working illegally on the other side of the border in Los Angeles. Rosario has been gone for four years and Carlito?s father has been out of the picture for even longer. Carlito?s only contact with his mother ocurrs when she calls him every Sunday, but after one fateful Sunday call he finds his grandmother dead. With this in mind, Carlito decides to travel alone from his town in Mexico to his mother in L.A. and wants to get there before the next Sunday call is made so his mother won?t worry. After the local coyote refuses to help him Carlito must rely on the kindness of strangers in order to get across the border and reach his mother.
Believability is probably the first o many problems this movie has. Over the years there have been a lot of precocious children on the screen, but it takes a special kind of precociousness for a nine year old to independently think that he can travel hundreds of miles across a foreign border, against all warnings from his elders, alone and on a very limited budget. Many adults are killed or arrested trying to do the same, yet this kid succeeds relatively unscathed. Every time the kid is about to get in trouble the film?s script has him coincidentally run into a random stranger willing to help him, usually at great expense to themselves.
Immigration was a huge issue for about a month last year, now it?s pretty well on the back burner but it remains a controversial subject. This film?s take on the subject is one-sided and simple: all illegal immigrants are saintly figures while everyone who isn?t an illegal immigrant is naïve, mean, or an obstacle. The only American citizens to be found here are nameless brutal cops, fascists with the gall to raid a sleazy tomatoes plantation who ?generously? decide to hire a nine year old for dangerous work. Also to found are a pair of Second generation Mexican immigrants who are inept college students incapable of the simplest smuggling actions. But the most offensively un-nuanced of the American characters is a thoroughly witch-like and seemingly senile old rich woman who coldly fires Carlito?s mother for the most minor of offences without even paying for work that?s been completed. Admittedly, the mother?s other boss seemed relatively normal, but one token non-sociopath American character is not enough to make up for this insanely manipulative look at a major issue.
I?m sure one can find many Americans who do act a lot like the above examples, but only selectively choosing those types as examples and juxtaposing them with the saintly illegal immigrants here is intellectually dishonest. If someone like Lou Dobbs decided to produce a movie that featured nothing but lazy, drug dealing, or diseased immigrants people would label it propagandistic or at the very least a gross simplification of a complex issue and rightly so, Under the Same Moon is exactly the same but from a different side.
The film does step off its soapbox and focus strictly on its saccharine story in the third act, but this doesn?t help either because when divorced from its sophomoric politics is still a lame, sappy story. The movie is just as manipulative emotionally as it is politically; its trivialization of human suffering and overbearing score make Frank Capra movies look downright subtle.
This is little more than the hallmark card version of the immigrant experience and it pales in comparison to other better movies on the subject like El Norte, In America, and Maria Full of Grace. The movie was mostly ignored in theaters and should also be avoided on DVD. Speaking of which, the subtitles on the DVD I watched were actually captions, which continued through the film?s English potions and forced the viewer to read through descriptions of sound effects. This annoyance was yet another reason to leave this thing on the DVD shelf.
Some may find this unrealistic, but Carlitos is amazingly intelligent at the age of 9. He has a special way of connecting with adults and sometimes manipulating them in order to get what he wants. This is not to say there is a maniacal or evil motive behind what Carlitos wants from adults, but he is a natural at convincing others to help him, and he must be since he is limited due to his age.
On the reverse side, we see his mother living in L.A. in order to make money to support little Carlitos with not one, but two jobs as a maid. She is constantly questioning what will help her son in the long run, which is heartbreaking since Carlitos sometimes thinks that his mother abandoned him. What adds to the mother's struggle is the fact that she is an "illegal," so she must also decide what puts her in a better position to support her only child.
While the mother's story is more dramatic, Carlitos' journey is full of heart and many laughs, especially after he befriends a man named Enrique. Basically, Carlitos depends on this stranger, but Enrique is reluctant to help since the kid annoys him. It is a great love/hate relationship which has us hoping Enrique will come to his senses and do the right thing.
I love how the film combines aspects of the melodrama with the political issue of immigration which is tied to desperation for work. There is little to say about the film in a negative manner except that it may seem cheesy at certain points. Also, if you're looking for a film with complexity you may want to look elsewhere since the plot for this film is simple and straightforward, but it is a fun and touching story.