A Better Life (2011)

PG-13  |   |  Drama  |  28 July 2011 (Thailand)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 12,700 users   Metascore: 64/100
Reviews: 81 user | 93 critic | 30 from Metacritic.com

A gardener in East L.A. struggles to keep his son away from gangs and immigration agents while trying to give his son the opportunities he never had.



(screenplay), (story)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 6 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Eddie 'Piolin' Sotelo
Blasco Martinez
Mrs. Donnelley
Ruthie Valdez
School Security Officer
Juvie Officer
School Secretary
Truck Driver


Carlos Galindo is a decent man, a Mexican single parent working as a gardener in California to raise Luis,his fourteen-year-old son,whom Carlos is frightened will drift into local gang culture. Carlos buys a truck for his work with money loaned by his sister but a shifty new employee steals it from him and,though Carlos and Luis track the thief down,he has sold the truck. Father and son bond as they reclaim the vehicle from the pound but Carlos attracts police attention,making his future in America uncertain when it is discovered that he is an illegal immigrant. Written by don @ minifie-1

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

gang | truck | gardener | police | money | See All (243) »


Every father wants more for his son



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some violence, language and brief drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




Release Date:

28 July 2011 (Thailand)  »

Also Known As:

The Gardener  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$10,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$62,087 (USA) (24 June 2011)


$1,754,319 (USA) (26 August 2011)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Director Chris Weitz liked to do all the dangerous scenes in the script before he asked his cast to perform them. A stunt double taught Weitz and Demian Bichir how to climb a palm tree, and although Weitz was first to successfully climb one, Bichir did go on to film all the scenes himself, without a stunt double. Weitz told the audience at a SAG Screening: "That is why in my films there are not many scenes that require stunt doubles". See more »


When Carlos is chasing his stolen truck, he has his climbing belt in his hand. When he gives up and walks away, his hands are empty. See more »


Carlos Galindo: This truck is my only chance to grow this into something big. So we can move out of here and get you in a better school.
See more »


Featured in The 84th Annual Academy Awards (2012) See more »


Savor Amargo
Written by Jose Vaco Flores and Antonio Valdes Herrera
Performed by Juan Valentín
Courtesy of Balboa Records Co. and Discos Musart, S.A. DE C.V.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Proof that the movie industry is just stupid
14 December 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Demián Bichir is simply brilliant in this film as the father trying to raise a son in gangland California. Admittadly most critics haven't even seen this film but Demián Bichir deserves an Oscar nod for his excellent role in this heartwarming film. I don't care how overlooked this film was by the masses, it is an excellent film, an award winning film, the stuff that will survive the centuries. The fact that the critics ignored it is only proof of how lame the critics are, not at all a statement about the quality of this movie. Best Actor Nod, all the way.

I can not say it enough, Oscar Material

17 of 22 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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