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Under the Same Moon (2007)
This story is one that will feel too close to home to many viewers--immigrants of all kinds, and parents who have ever been separated from their kids. The emotional stakes get piled so high you know that it can't end in disaster (the audience would be angry), so you kind of wait to see how the inevitable gets worked out.
What holds it completely together is the stellar acting of the lead boy, played by Adrian Alonso, with great support from his pretty but a bit restrained mother, played by Kate del Castillo. You can't help but feel for them, and the many hardships they encounter will move you right along with the events.
Which is the only conspicuous problem with the movie--the hardships are endless and brutal and almost comically classic. I'm sure they're all true enough, and I'm sure there are even individuals who face all these things in one lifetime. But it all happens in a week as the days tick off one by one to the critical weekly phone call. It's too much, really, no matter how you cut it--unless you think of it as a kind of modern Grimm fairy tale. In those, terrible things happen to kids and yet there is a dramatic outcome you take in stride. The fact this is kind of knowingly over the top happens when our two leads come within feet of each other (in the sprawling city of Los Angeles) and don't know it. Could be, but it doesn't help any sense of realism.
And yet it is filmed with an attention to small details, to making people reasonable (bad and good people both) and believable. That's eventually all backdrop to the tale, complete with wicked relatives, a knight in shining armor, and a couple of scofflaws who come to the rescue just in time.
It'll make you cry, and you might get mad at being so manipulated. But I think it's worth it.
I went to a local independent film theater not knowing what to except to see my first independent film. I thought is was worth a try and it was! This movie made me laugh, cry, think, get angry, and remember that love is the strongest force in the world. Yes, there is underlining message here, about our borders, and the hardships illegals face, but the movie is more than that. It is well directed, logical, sensitive, real, very well acted film. There is a small part with "Ugly Betty's" America Ferrara in it, but don't see the movie for just the brief parts with America Ferrara in them. The main characters Rosaro, and her son Carlitos grab your heart and you hang on to every word. There is a character named Enrique that you first think what has he got to do with anything but before long you realize he is so important to the overall feel of the film and reminds us that we are all tied to each other in some way. This is the first movie I saw in a long time that I could not guess what was going to happen next. It was always the unexpected. From the description of the movie it might not sound like something that will give you that much emotion and entertainment,but "Under the Moon" will. This movie is well worth the time to see it and the price of the ticket.
The casting of this film is amazing. Hats off to the entire cast, especially Adrian Alonso, for exhibiting the ability to deal with the tough, trying situations that are dealt with throughout this film. They act these situations out in a way that draws the viewers in and makes them sympathize with the characters. Also, they create suspense, like in the scene where Carlitos is hiding beneath the seat in the car while attempting to cross the border. Watching Carlito's journey gives a sense of hope to everyone, that if you persist and have determination, you can accomplish anything. Despite all of the hardships that Carlos goes through, he keeps a positive attitude, and that is the most important thing you can learn from this film. Although, I'm sure that is not the message that the director wanted to tell. Clearly, the purpose of this movie is to show how immigration can tear up a family, but also, how it is necessary in some people's lives because their nation does not offer them enough opportunities.
Unfortunately, it seems that many people are too blinded by their own political sympathies on either side of the fence to appreciate this movies for what it really was... A terrifically acted and brilliantly written screenplay. It's about familial love that overcomes mankind's boundaries (literally). True, the same story could have been (and has been) told in a more politically correct way, by having the families separated unjustly by Nazi or other intolerance. However, opening the window into this seldom explored and controversial world of illegal immigration gave it a fresh spin that makes it seem more relevant to the world we live in today. The story is told in a fresh and less-than-predictable way. My only wish is that I was fluent in Spanish so that I could have appreciated the film as it was meant to be seen.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
There was only one other person in the theater when I recently saw this movie at a local multiplex late at night: An Hispanic gentleman. He was seated in the uppermost, dark corner of the theater. He had a deeply tanned sun-worn, old-before-his-time look (may have been in his 30's, 40's or 50's; hard to tell), wore somewhat tattered clothes, and kept his old cowboy hat titled low over his eyes. This is a plot-heavy movie whose ending becomes more obvious as the movie progresses. I thought the movie was well done, but as a second generation white American it did not have a particularly deep impact on me. However, as the movie went along, I became aware that this man was quietly weeping through the especially intense parts that dealt with the pain of separated families, and the sacrifices made by immigrants. I suspect this moviegoer was moved less by the movie itself, and more by the reality depicted. The movie thus rang true for me. It was the most powerful personal experience I have ever had at the movies, and I will always cherish it.
A hit at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, first time director Patricia
Riggen's Under The Same Moon or La Misma Luna (in Spanish) is that rare
film that's about real people dealing with life's issues that resonate
in today's hectic and cruel world. The drama centers on a little
Mexican boy, Carlitos (Adrian Alonso), who lives with his ailing
guelita (grandmother) in Mexico; when she suddenly dies in her sleep,
he sets off to Los Angeles to be reunited with his mother, who's been
working as a maid for rich folks. His plan to make the journey across
the US/Mexico border doesn't pan out as easily as he had planned,
running into stumbling blocks that involve street thugs, migrant
workers, a heroin addict, near kidnapping and the INS (Immigration and
Under The Same moon is a fantastic little Mexican-American film that subtlety transcends the hot topic of illegal immigration. But it's the story of Carlitos and his mother Rosario (Kate del Castillo) that makes this film a definite must see. Child actor Adrian Alonso stands out and basically carries the film, as he gives such a compelling and truthful performance; it's one of those young performances of recent years that will be remembered. Kate del Castillo, as well, exudes that motherly instinct in her tired, stressed-out expressions with such sadness, one can only feel for her. Eugenio Derbez adds some comic flair as the stranger that ends up helping Carlitos to find his mother. At first, he wants nothing to do with him as he, too, is in the states illegally, but then becomes a father figure, realizing the chiquito needs all the help he can get. Ugly Betty's America Ferrera, in a brief role, is good as one who smuggles Mexicans into the U.S. in order to pay for her college tuition. No matter what you think about illegal immigration, Under The Same Moon is a terrific movie about hope, love, survival and the yearning for family, no matter what the consequences. It also pulls at your heartstrings. It's a powerful little film that will move you and perhaps, bring you to tears.
Note: Under The Same Moon will most likely be playing in major Metropolitan cities, so if you can find it, I highly recommend this movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I've got a soft spot for road movies, so I enjoyed this one, but I think they would've been able to find his mother more easily if they'd looked up the Domino's locations in the phone books and searched that way. Especially considering that they were looking for a particular pay phone; you'd think that there would be all sorts of books chained up where they'd be looking. Also thought it was a little too convenient that his dad happened to be in the same border town as him. Not bad though; I'd say it's worth checking out!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Under the Same Moon is a horrible, horrible movie.
I was in agony watching it. It's so boring, so sentimental, so shamelessly one dimensional in it's portrayal of the heroic immigrant child and his mother, separated by those darn awful white people who hate foreigners.
Whatever political stance you take on illegal-immigration, whatever side you lean towards, you can't deny that this film takes a complex, multi-faceted problem and trivializes it, turning it into a simple battle of good versus evil.
Not only does it attack it's subject matter without an ounce of nuance, but it is also a horribly made film. You don't get a sense of the director at all, it's just so bland and generic. Sometimes that's okay with me when the story is gripping on it's own but... whoo, wee! This film could have used some style!
The characters are as horrible as everything else in the film. They don't feel real in the slightest. Both Carlitos and Rosario are one dimensional victims who were supposed to cheer on, right up to the unspeakably awful ending where they see each other across the street and were supposed to feel all emotional because finally they've found each other. Honestly, I just wanted them both to get hit by a bus or something.
Rosario and Carlitos are terrible characters, but they're not the worst in the film. The worst, most god-awful garbage character is Enrique, the classic "lone wolf" type character. He's brooding and sulky and doesn't want to help Carlitos but big surprise he ends up sacrificing himself so the kid can escape. Wow, I've never seen that in a movie before!
So, in conclusion, if you like your movies hyper politically-correct, un-nuanced, terribly acted, directed, written and shot, then I would recommend this trash to you.
Illegal immigrant Rosario (Kate del Castillo) works as a cleaning lady
in L.A. to send money back to Mexico for her mother and her son
Carlitos. Carlitos hangs out with the local Coyote Doña Carmen. An
American couple (America Ferrera) offers to take babies across the
border but Carmen dismisses them. When Carlitos' grandmother dies, he
fears his uncle getting custody and calls up the American couple to
smuggle him across the border to find his mother. He faces multiple
challenges with only a payphone number his connection to his mother.
The story is split in two following separately the mother and the child. The mother's story is capably told with the beautiful Kate del Castillo. The boy's story holds some of the most compelling situations although it does meander somewhat. The kid is fine. The turn to find his father is convenient at best and would be better not to be introduced. His friendship with Enrique is the best part. The duo is like a Chaplin and the kid. This is a fine melodrama with some good work. As a message movie about illegals in America, it may be good or bad depending on the audience.
This semester, I have had to sit through a bunch of not-so-great films
in my global road movie class. The not-so-great ones have consisted of
cheaply made documentaries and films that have conveyed the essence of
a journey with little to no effect on the characters. With Under the
Same Moon, we get a story about a clear journey of a young boy,
Carlitos, trying desperately to cross the border into the U.S. and
finding his mother in L.A.
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.
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