Sunday, July 27, 2008

La Misma Luna (Under the Same Moon)

I saw a preview for this ages ago and was intrigued. I generally like foreign language films and am a sucker for stories about kids triumphing. So I was definitely not disappointed by La Misma Luna (Under the Same Moon). It's the story of Carlitos, a 9-year-old Mexican boy with the heart, personality and wisdom of an adult. He lives with his sick grandmother in Mexico while his mother works 2 jobs in L.A. sending money home. She calls from a payphone every Sunday morning and her little boy gets all dressed up to wait for her call at his own payphone. Everything falls apart in Mexico when the grandmother dies, and Carlitos decides it's time to get himself to the U.S. and be with his mother. He has met some "coyotes" who are willing to bring him across the border at El Paso in a hidden compartment in their car (America Ferrara from Ugly Betty is one of them, very disappointing performance). While they don't get caught at the border, Carlitos ends up on his own, but on the U.S. side. His many adventures include meeting a bunch of migrant workers and picking tomatoes, hitch hiking with a mariachi band, and working washing dishes in a diner. He meets some people who are willing to help him, and more than a few wanting to hurt him too. His mother's story is interwoven with Carlitos adventures, and her story is the one of illegal immigrants we've seen several times before (the only good storyline in Babel). However, the actress is good, convincing, and plays a strong woman working for horribly wealthy people (some nice, some not) in an insecure job and trying to take care of her family back home. It's a wonderfully sweet story and the personality of the lead character, Carlitos makes the whole story work. It's not overly sappy or saccharine, and bad things you'd expect to happen, do find their way into the story, but the triumph of the human spirit wins out in the end. Great film, highly recommend it.

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