A Better Life - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

A Better Life Reviews

July 27, 2011
The didacticism takes the shine off Weitz's accomplishment, even if the film builds up enough empathy to generate slow-burning emotional impact.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
July 15, 2011
A Better Life has more to offer than good intentions: it's sincere and credible, which is more than I can say about an awful lot of movies. Yet something about it kept me at arm's length: I felt the filmmakers' presence instead of...
July 15, 2011
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.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
July 15, 2011
The people here seem real, their world is shaky at best, and the political tension that permeates everything in this film feels palpable.
Full Review | Original Score: B+
July 15, 2011
Bichir redeems the secondhand plot and on-the-nose dialogue.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
July 15, 2011
Personalizes the illegal immigrant experience and digs much deeper into what has become a national disgrace.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
July 15, 2011
"A Better Life" might not change any minds about immigration policy, but it illuminates the conversation with context, compassion and understanding.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
July 15, 2011
Notwithstanding its modest scope, "A Better Life" richly documents the life of an invisible man.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
July 14, 2011
Weitz, who directed the excellent 2002 Hugh Grant movie, "About a Boy," once more does a sensitive job with iffy material.
Read More | Original Score: 3.5/4
July 14, 2011
A compassionate character study of a man modeling the values of heart, hard work, self-respect, and self-reliance to his spawn.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
July 14, 2011
It's generic and small but manages to reel you in and surprise you with its grimness.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
July 8, 2011
If we can see how things will play out long before the characters do, it's still powerful and, one gets the feeling, valuable - not just as a document of the immigration struggle but as a film.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
July 8, 2011
A major star in Mexico, Bichir is quietly affecting as the father, a humble striver who faces loss at every turn.
July 7, 2011
The film's trajectory is rather predictable, but then so was the story told by "The Bicycle Thief." But the performances are pitch perfect...
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
July 1, 2011
It's straight, true and heartbreaking, a masterstroke of raw emotional minimalism.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
July 1, 2011
Director Chris Weitz neatly avoids sanctimony by centering the engrossing story on a father-son relationship, letting the audience make up its own mind about the overarching matter of illegal immigration.
Full Review | Original Score: A
June 27, 2011
Bichir delivers a note-perfect performance of determination, defeat and pride.
June 27, 2011
Once you get past the cliched Spanglish dialogue and the sentimental tone of the early acts, "A Better Life" settles down into something both involving and moving.
Read More | Original Score: 2/4
June 24, 2011
There are sequences here, like the ones involving men massing for work on street corners, or working the night shift washing dishes, that highlight a closed-off society too often neglected in the movies -- not to mention in real life.
Full Review | Original Score: B
June 24, 2011
Neither hopeful nor hopeless, the story is about embracing heritage while striving for more, all the while trying not to step on the neck of your brother.
June 24, 2011
No matter where you stand on immigration, A Better Life is must-see viewing, poignantly revealing what it's like living confined to the shadows of contemporary society.
June 24, 2011
Weitz keeps the schmaltz in check...
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
June 24, 2011
With its careful compositions and message-minded dialogue, Chris Weitz's modest drama feels more earnest than real. Still, its sincerity is admirable, and often touching.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
June 24, 2011
Mostly this is a film made up of earnest concern and good intentions - and that's never a substitute for real drama and strong convictions.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
June 23, 2011
On the surface, the film seems like one of those docudramas that beg to be rewarded solely for their good intentions. But Chris Weitz cuts deep. This movie will get under your skin.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
June 23, 2011
It's unusual for a director to scale down again as dramatically as Mr. Weitz has with "A Better Life," but it's done him good.
Read More | Original Score: 3.5/5
June 23, 2011
It's a familiar story retold in the form of another familiar story, but powerfully expressed emotions always feel fresh and vital in the moment, no matter how many times they've been expressed before.
Full Review | Original Score: B
June 22, 2011
Weaves the torpor and anxiety of immigrant life into something dramatically true, if at moments a bit draggy.
Full Review | Original Score: B+
June 22, 2011
Kudos for stepping outside your comfort zone, sir, even if the result just translates as old-fashioned cultural slumming masked as tear-jerking humanism. Better luck next time.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/5
June 22, 2011
The power in this movie is the way Chris Weitz trusts us to discover the facts for ourselves.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
June 22, 2011
A fairly satisfying though by-the-numbers drama about an illegal Mexican immigrant struggling to build a decent future for his teenage son.
June 21, 2011
A Better Life takes on the combustible topic of illegal immigration through the soft, safe focus of father-son bonding, with a heavy nod to The Bicycle Thief.
June 21, 2011
...a little more sensibility applied to its sensitivity could have brought it to a much better place.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
June 20, 2011
There are moments in Chris Weisz's immigration drama that transcend the familiarity of the material, and others that play directly into it.
June 20, 2011
The story unfolds without hagiography, pity, or trumped-up heroism, as the filmmaker approaches the lives of everyday people with modest compassion and imaginative sympathy.
June 16, 2011
Despite Demian Bichir's affecting lead performance and a strong feel for Los Angeles' Mexican-American communities, [the film] emerges an earnest and overly programmatic heart-tugger.
June 15, 2011
By keeping things simple and understated, director Chris Weitz and screenwriter Eric Eason have crafted a little gem where humanity is observed with compassion, not condescension.