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I just saw this movie through the Los Angeles KCET Movies Series and it was absolutely fantastic! While the movie does contain a subtle political message, it is not meant to sway the audience in the illegal immigration debate. The story carries extraordinarily well with a subject as touchy as illegal immigration and cannot exist without it. Utilizing a theme of abandonment, the movie explores what it means to truly care for and cherish a loved one. With brilliant acting (Adrian Alonso is incredible!), fantastic direction, and a terrific screenplay, the movie is a wonderful, heartfelt journey that brings laughter, sadness, and a sincere sense of happiness into an enjoyable, movie-going experience.
A mother gets up before the sun rises on Los Angeles to take the first
of many buses to get to the first of her two housecleaning jobs.
Elsewhere, in Mexico, her nine-year-old son still sleeps soundly in his
bed. Before she left him over four years prior, she told him that
should he ever find himself lonely and missing her, that he need only
look up to moon in the sky and know that she too would be looking and
thinking of him. In that thought, both the title and the dualistic tone
are set for a surprisingly poignant piece about the borders that keep
both countries and people apart. Director Patricia Riggen's UNDER THE
SAME MOON is a brave film that proudly puts a face to an issue that has
polarized America. While the main focus surrounds precocious Carlito
(Adrian Alonso) as he crosses the US/Mexican border to find his mother
after a family death leaves him alone, his journey draws attention to
the plight of a people who want only to pursue a better future for
their families. It is soft and sweet one moment, difficult and tense
the next, but always subtle and sensitive. Its significance is found in
its simplicity while our heart strings are being tugged, our eyes are
also being opened.
When Rosario (Kate del Castillo) stares up at the moon, the longing to be with her son is matched only in magnitude by the constant wondering if all of her sacrifice is worth the trouble. The contradictory nature of her existence is a heavy burden to bear. She demeans herself daily cleaning the house of a wealthy woman who treats her like a second class citizen and then has to clean another house and sew dresses nightly in order to put any money aside. As every hour of every day disappears without notice or meaning, years go by without seeing her son. She must work so hard in order to provide him with the possibility of a brighter future and this sacrifice is truly great. For as she slaves away the days, sure to always be on the lookout for the Immigration and Naturalization Service, her son is growing up without her. She has foregone the potential of her own happiness and cut herself off from the one remaining source of joy in her life. The decision she made years ago to cross the border has now drawn another line between mother and son that she knows may one day be too thick to be erased.
When Carlito stares up at the moon, the longing to be with his mother is matched only in magnitude by the bewilderment derived from feeling abandoned. He cannot reconcile his mother's love still felt in his heart and the reality of their situation. Four years after she left, his faith is finally faltering. While Rosario's daily renunciation is a testament to conviction and hope, Carlito's mission to make his way from Mexico to L.A. gives the film a heartbreaking tenderness while still tersely telling the truth of his tale. A boy willing to go to such great lengths just to be with his mother may sound saccharine in nature but there is nothing sweet about a nine-year old hitchhiking in Tucson, working wherever he can to pay for bus fare or nearly being sold into child prostitution. Ligiah Villalobos's lean screenplay never loses sight of the prize long enough to find itself off course but it is also never afraid to talk about the reality illegal immigrants must face on the streets of a supposedly great country. The dichotomy between sappy and serious is what makes UNDER THE SAME MOON so effective. While we want with great desperation to see mother and son reunite, we are also exposed to the reality imposed by our own ignorance upon such innocent hopefuls.
Once upon a time, America used to be the land of the free. People the world over would immigrate in pursuit of the elusive American dream. Things are very different now. Now there is the threat of terrorism, economic unrest and generally widespread panic and fear. To be foreign is to be frightening. All of our misconceptions dehumanize those involved and in a backwards fashion, somehow glamorize the experience. UNDER THE SAME MOON is a fine, refreshing film that gives a voice to those who are so seldom heard in a fashion that will allow it be heard by many. And for all the tears and warmth it brings to the viewer, perhaps its crowning achievement is that all who see it will inevitably find themselves staring up at the night sky shortly afterward, realizing that we all live under that very same moon no matter how many lines are drawn between us.
I just saw this film at the Woodstock Film Festival and it was one of the highlights for me. I went in having no idea what to expect and was more than pleasantly surprised. There is not a note of false dialog, it's heartfelt, but not overwrought. It tells a story of a mother trying to support her son and mother in Mexico from LA. When the Grandmother suddenly dies, the 9 year old boy crosses the border to find his mother. From this description it might not sound like much, but seek it out, it's well worth it. All around the acting is wonderful, particularly the young boy Carlitos, played by Adrian Alonso. America Ferrara has a very brief role in this film, don't just see it for her.
This certainly lived up to expectations of being "a nice movie," an
involving story about a young Mexican boy who sneaks into the United
States to try to find his mother in Los Angeles. She had been in L.A.
for four years and, frankly, I forget why. They don't dwell on that,
but there must have been a good reason since she loves the kid and
vice-versa. Each Sunday morning at 10, she calls him from the same
spot. That's a key to the story.
When the woman's mother dies, "Carlito's" grandmother who had been looking after the young boy, the kid decides his options aren't good at that point and he needs to take a big chance to see if he can find his way to Los Angeles. Yes, you have to suspend your beliefs here a bit, as the odds on a kid actually being able to do that - all with no money! - are astronomical, but it's fun to watch him on his journey and how he makes do with what little he has. Some of the friendships he makes are truly touching and in a way, the best part of the film.
While writing this, it makes me flashback to the film "The Straight Story" when an old man on a tractor drives 300 miles across Iowa to see his long-lost brother. He is befriended by many people along the way, some who go to extraordinary lengths to help a stranger. That's the case here, too.
We also get a good profile of the mother, her best friend and a wonderful man she meets during this story, which takes place in one week. Each "chapter" of the film is broken down into days. Yes, the film is slightly preachy concerning immigration but the story is so good that one forgets about the political aspect, no matter side one is on.
This is a pretty solidly-made film, from directing to acting to the visuals but it's the story that will hook you in early on and you aren't able to let go until the end. The last half hour will keep you on the edge of your seat, wondering exactly things how will turn out. That's good, because it means the movie is entertaining. Definitely recommended.
Do not let the idea of illegal immigration keep you from this film. If you are strongly against illegal immigration, I still recommend watching the film. Overall, it was done extremely well. So even if you are against the characters crossing the border illegally, the movie still won't disappoint. It's extremely touching and the main story is just a son trying to get back to his mother, but faces many obstacles (the border, money issues, untrustworthy people) on the way. It's a lot better than a lot of the American movies that have been coming out weekly. However many people have complained about the reality of such events and the protocol at the Mexico-US border checkpoint, my only advice is to remember that it is a FILM! it never said it was a documentary, so aside from the several "unrealistic" events, the film is lovely and i do recommend it for everyone. if you want to see the more realistic ongoings, please watch Wetback, a documentary on undocumented immigrants from their homeland and crossing to America.
I love this movie, and I'm sure anyone who is a mother,a father, a son, a daughter, would love this movie. The dialogue just feels so real, sincere because this story is just like the story of many people around the world. Yes, it is about Mexican immigrants, but you don't have to be Mexican nor even an immigrant to feel a connection with the characters. Many people have to move from their origin country to another country for many reasons, work, school, health, and sometimes they leave behind their loved ones. The movie is about love, family and dreams. If you decide to go and see it at the theater be prepared to laugh, and to cry oh yeah you will cry a lot. When I went to see it I cried, many people cried I was surprised to see that even children cried because they got so emotional with this film. I highly recommend this film.
I just saw it. This is one of the best movies that I have ever, ever
seen. It goes to my top five list. Regardless of your view on
immigration issues, this is a wonderful and so very human story. I am
anxious to finish writing this so I can rush back to research the cast,
the locations and the even the music.
The casting was perfect, the kid simply amazing. I hadn't seen Kate del Castillo before and will now look for more of her films. Maria Rojo had a minor role, I hadn't seen anything with her since Danzon and I still have a fan-crush. I knew of Derbez only as a comic before and was impressed with his dramatic performance. It pleased me that America Ferrara agreed to an appearance in a small role. I hope to see more of Maya Zapata too, what a doll.
Go see it now so you can recommend it to everyone you know, as I have. It makes me want to study Spanish harder just to get more of this film. And, yeah, I cried too.
Sensitive director Patricia Riggen has, in LA MISMA LUNA (UNDER THE
SAME MOON), succeeded in creating a story about the travails of the
illegal immigrants from Mexico that serves as a reminder to all of us
that one of the reasons for the obsession to take the risks of crossing
the border is an attempt to find a better life. While this story
concept is by no means a novel one, writer Ligiah Villalobos has
provided a script that avoids taking sides, but instead concentrates on
creating wholly believable characters caught in the web of immigration
- from both sides of the wall. This little film from Mexico is, above
all, a film about love, about courage and about resilience and is
portrayed by a very fine cast in every role.
Rosario (Kate del Castillo) is a single mother who crossed the border four years earlier in order to support her young son Carlitos (a superb young actor, Adrian Alonso) and her ailing mother by working double jobs as a housekeeper in Los Angeles. She keeps in touch with Carlitos with weekly phone calls and sends him gifts as well as money and love. When Rosario's mother dies, Carlitos takes life into his own hands and plans to cross the border with a little help from his experience with a wise old lady Coyota (Carmen Salinas) who aids immigrants. With his savings in his backpack and his heart aimed toward Los Angeles he sets out on his journey and is thwarted at every turn. He is picked up by two Hispanic students from the US (America Ferrara and Jesse Garcia) whose attempt to transport Carlitos is halted at the border - with the little Carlitos hidden under the seat of the now towed away car. Carlos escapes from the car in El Paso, meets up with some illegal workers who are arrested, leaving the hidden Carlitos with a reluctant companion Enrique (Eugenio Derbez) who is able to aid Carlitos (reluctantly!) to escape to Los Angeles. Through many 'jobs' and untoward situations Carlitos finally finds his way to the spot where he hopes he will meet his mother.
The rhythms of the cinematography, the sets, the flavors of both sides of the border, and the music that accompanies the film all contribute to making this story real and believable - and VERY touching. While Kate del Castillo is the major star of the film, it is the performance by Adrian Alonso that remains in the mind long after the credits are shown. Some viewers may find this film a bit too 'novella-like', but the magic that Patricia Riggen pulls from her large cast and verismo directing style will touch the hearts of most everyone. A fine little reminder of the other aspects of the Immigration topic! Grady Harp
One can never accuse this film of reaching classic heights, but one can
truly say it tries very hard, a little too hard at times. Throughout
the film, there are moments that transcend its obvious attempts to
manipulate its audience, but it never rises to sublime status, like
"Cinema Paradiso" did by tying a personal story to the evolution of a
society that lost its innocence and the ability to dream. The parallels
in that movie were delicately explored, as Toto's story and that of his
beloved city traveled similar path. In "Moon" things could have moved
beyond soap opera status. Unfortunately, the tears flow much too
easily, even when the situation doesn't quite earn them.
A hard working mother has lost her connection with her 9 year old. Because of her move to the U.S., she lives in constant fear of not doing the best for her child, and to make matters worse, her little boy feels like he is not wanted anymore. Things become worse as events develop in such a way that he is forced to follow the path of many other immigrants and endure a series of ordeals to reunite with his parent.
Along the way, we are witness to many situations undocumented aliens are exposed to, and the film makes an honest attempt to present most people in a fair way, though there are some characterizations that are at best sketchy. The main points are there, but the subtlety is missed.
There are some good performances here, and the male actors do much better, as the young boy easily explores an amazing range of emotions. In addition there are two supporting actors that don't quite succumb to the stereotypes of the uneducated immigrant that most people associate with this type of situation. Eugenio Derbez in particular, does an amazing job as the hardened sidekick who discovers his heart might still be open to caring.
The part of the mother is underwritten and opportunities are not fully explored as we wish we could know more of what propelled her into taking the drastic option of moving to the United States. She is a hard worker, a loving mother, but mostly a shell of character, one who cries on cue, but rarely projects any substance.
In general, the film is a lovely social commentary that might reach a few people and open the way to understanding the plight of some members in society. We only wish we could see a more real portrayal of them.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Kate del Castillo is Rosario, a Mexican in the USA illegally, working
two jobs as a maid, one job in the morning, another in the afternoon,
to send money home. She had been there several years, while her young
son was still in Mexico with his grandmother. She hopes to get
The son is played wonderfully by Adrian Alonso as Carlitos. (Remember him from the second Zorro movie, as Zorro's young son.) He isn't happy to be away from his mother and when she calls him at 10AM each Sunday morning, at the designated pay phone, and he asks when he will see her again.
When grandma unexpectedly dies, Carlitos' situation changes. Unable to reach his mother, family members took care of the burial and Carlitos decided he would go to Los Angeles to find mom, bringing along the return address from one of her letters.
That is an adventure in itself, finding a way to be smuggled over the border, finding a ride to L.A., then finding that the address was a box and not a residence. The key to his finding her was the description she always gave him over the phone, describing what she saw from her phone booth.
The movie contains many cliché statements, but overall it is a good story about a young boy finding his mother. The title comes from her telling Carlitos that at night when he is lonesome, look at the moon and know that mom was looking at the same moon too.
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