Starring Demian Bichir and Jose Julian
Directed by Chris Weitz
Another new release Tuesday is upon us, and that sound we hear across Toronto is the shelves of video stores across the city being restocked with the latest new releases on DVD & Blu-Ray. Out today from our friends at eOne films is a festival and critical darling about a man trying to provide everything for his son that he never had. It’s won over audiences everywhere that it has played and now is available for the couch dweller in all of us. It’s time to experience “A Better Life”.
“A Better Life” introduces us to Carlos Galindo (Bichir) a simple and decent, 40-year-old Mexican man who doesn’t ask much from life. He just wants to keep tending the yards of L.A.’s wealthy and to give his estranged son Luis (Julian) a better life than he had. But when a business opportunity that would have allowed him to take control of his destiny is stolen from under his nose, his life is thrown into chaos.
In what could have been a movie with a preachy liberal message, “A Better Life” kept it simple. Director Chris Weitz who has an eclectic mix of films like ‘About A Boy’ & ‘Twilight: New Moon’ and ‘The Golden Compass’, kept it compelling and rather than clubbing the viewer over the head with a heavy handed message about immigration and the desperation and anxiety that are permeated in the life of immigrant on an hourly basis the viewer gets shown a certain beauty in the concrete jungle of desperation that is their day to day lives. In spite of the moments that drag a little bit, this is a heart wrenching tale of the lengths that people will go to for their families.
Demian Bichir gives a truly memorable and haunting performance as Carlos. He doesn’t have to act out or be demonstrative as we see the anxiety and stress on his face and in his eyes, and it was a performance that is deserving of some recognition around awards season. None of these men are bad people, but desperation has pushed them all to the brink of things that they felt were simply unimaginable. Everyone involved brought a certain level of simplicity and respect to the project and that made “A Better Life” a human drama more heartfelt and emotional then most. It wasn’t blatantly manipulative, it was just real.
The sound and picture quality on the Blu-Ray was sharp and clear and extras on the disc include a commentary track with Director Chris Weitz, deleted scenes and a music video from Ozomatli
“A Better Life” has some minor flaws, but it is an intelligent and emotional tale about a father and son trying to look out for one another in an increasingly hostile world.
4 out of 5 stars.
“A Better Life” is available at video stores across Toronto; click here for a list of some of the finer video stores near you.
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