A Better Life (2011)

PG-13  |   |  Drama  |  28 July 2011 (Thailand)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 12,713 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
See  »

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 country is a land of dreams. It can be a hard place, a cruel place. But it's where I work, and I dream of a better place for my son.
See more »


Features Cribs (2000) See more »


Hay Ojitos
Written by Cornelio Reyna and Dionicio Sanchez
Performed by Intocable
Courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment US Latin LLC
By arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

anyone who likes "real' life movies must go see A Better Life!
19 August 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

My husband and I went to see this film. I lived in Whittier for 25 years - So. CA. since the 50's and went to L.A. many times and had friends who lived difficult lives such as this. We thought the movie was wonderful and very "real"! I loved how Dad and son related.

I'm a pretty simple person and like to watch nice movies - I am definitely going to watch this movie again!!

The only thing I would change is to make sure I bring a box of Kleenex! I was so moved and hurt I couldn't leave the theater for at least 5 minutes!

Go see this movie - especially if you like true to life movies - it's inspiring & loving.

God bless everyone who experiences life this way. This movie inspired me to start praying for all who are in situations like these ones!

22 of 29 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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