80 user 93 critic

A Better Life (2011)

PG-13 | | Drama, Romance | 28 July 2011 (Thailand)
2:15 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

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)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 6 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A young Mexican boy travels to the U.S. to find his mother after his grandmother passes away.

Director: Patricia Riggen
Stars: Eugenio Derbez, Kate del Castillo, Adrian Alonso
Albert Nobbs (2011)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Albert Nobbs struggles to survive in late 19th-century Ireland, where women aren't encouraged to be independent. Posing as a man so she can work as a butler in Dublin's most elegant hotel, Albert meets a handsome painter and looks to escape the lie she has been living.

Director: Rodrigo García
Stars: Glenn Close, Mia Wasikowska, Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Faced with both her hot-tempered father's fading health and melting ice-caps that flood her ramshackle bayou community and unleash ancient aurochs, six-year-old Hushpuppy must learn the ways of courage and love.

Director: Benh Zeitlin
Stars: Quvenzhané Wallis, Dwight Henry, Levy Easterly
Rabbit Hole (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Life for a happy couple is turned upside down after their young son dies in an accident.

Director: John Cameron Mitchell
Stars: Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart, Dianne Wiest
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

This comedic drama features two young couples, and another couple of old friends who reenter the two couples lives. The story takes place mostly in two apartments across the street from ... See full summary »

Director: Antonio Serrano
Stars: Demián Bichir, Susana Zabaleta, Jorge Salinas
Crazy Heart (2009)
Drama | Music | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A faded country music musician is forced to reassess his dysfunctional life during a doomed romance that also inspires him.

Director: Scott Cooper
Stars: Jeff Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Colin Farrell
Tyrannosaur (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Joseph, a man plagued by violence and a rage that is driving him to self-destruction, earns a chance of redemption that appears in the form of Hannah, a Christian charity shop worker.

Director: Paddy Considine
Stars: Peter Mullan, Archie Lal, Jag Sanghera
A Better Life (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Yann (Guillaume Canet) and Nadia (Leïla Bekhti) fall in love. Nadia has acquired a crumbling building in a Paris suburb and the couple decide to renovate it to launch a restaurant. But ... See full summary »

Director: Cédric Kahn
Stars: Guillaume Canet, Leïla Bekhti, Slimane Khettabi
Guilty (2011)
Biography | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A family man battles to prove his innocence after being accused of a heinous crime.

Director: Vincent Garenq
Stars: Philippe Torreton, Wladimir Yordanoff, Noémie Lvovsky
The Sessions (2012)
Biography | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A man in an iron lung who wishes to lose his virginity contacts a professional sex surrogate with the help of his therapist and priest.

Director: Ben Lewin
Stars: John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy

A catastrophic incident in New York leaves a small group of young people under the age of 21 struggling for survival.

Director: Chris Weitz
Drama | Thriller

Years after World War II, a team of secret agents are brought together to track down Adolf Eichmann, the infamous Nazi architect of the Holocaust.

Director: Chris Weitz


Cast overview, first billed only:
Carlos Galindo (as Demian Bichir)
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 (240) »


Every father wants more for his son


Drama | Romance

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  »

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
See  »

Did You Know?


Bichir was nominated for Best Actor for the 2012 Oscars. 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 »


Features Cribs (2000) See more »


Y Tu Tan Lejos
Written by Victor Ochoa
Performed by El Mayo De La Sierra
Courtesy of La Disco Music / Twiins Enterprises
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Neo-realism and Hollywood collide!
12 December 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Chris Weitz did a screening of this film at SMC, where I study film, and the reactions of the audience were engaging. The room was filled with a great aura and that was because the screening was filled with people with ethnicities from all over the world and that made the experience a lot more rewarding.

This guy is the same one that brought us American Pie and the second installment of the Twilight series? Yes he is, but let me tell you something, if these paychecks will make him do more movies like this one, then bring another 4 twilight adaptations right now!

The movie is about "Los Mojados", these people who everyday crosses the border from Mexico to the US to look for "A Better Life" like the title implies, trying not to forget their roots, their culture and at the same time struggling to find money to pay the rent, to eat and to survive in the United States without a SSN and without ID. You will wonder why we need to prove we're not from Mars with a visa if God already gave us permission to be here on earth every single second of the movie, absurd and unfair things this world has.

The acting by Demián Bichir, who looks like a younger Vicente Fernández to me, is invisible. You sometimes think you're watching a documentary if it wasn't for the glossy production value of the flick.

This movie needs to be seen by a wider audience, you need to look for it. If you do not feel touch by it, you're surely made out of stone.

The direction by Chris Weitz captures the essence of East LA in a second. There's a scene in the movie where in a matter of 3 minutes you can see how many cultures collide in this side of Los Angeles and how this story can repeat itself in several cultures.

This is also a story about true love between a father and a son, and how you can forget about everything and try every little thing to give your child the things he deserves.

One of the best little movies I have seen this year.

PS: If you like this one, and you're not afraid of B&W cinematography (no, it is not in 3D either) run and rent De Sica's Umberto D., a great masterpiece of Italian neorealism.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Anything Like This? marius_ptm19
Deport with a minor born in US? melly010
the father should be played by... jurjenfeenstra
Great movie!! paulbarreras
See this film! gjhines
political rally in the film sebeljub
Discuss A Better Life (2011) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: