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A Better Life
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A Better Life (2011) More at IMDbPro »

Photos (See all 43 | slideshow) Videos (see all 7)
A Better Life -- A gardener in East L.A. struggles to keep his son away from gangs and immigration agents while traveling across town to perform landscaping work for the city's wealthy landowners.
A Better Life -- Clip: That's Why I Had You
A Better Life -- Interview: "Jose Julian On His Character"
A Better Life -- Clip: Carlos And Luis Find The Truck
A Better Life -- Interview: "Jami Gertz On Demian Bichir"


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Down 2% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Writers (WGA):
Eric Eason (screenplay)
Roger L. Simon (story)
View company contact information for A Better Life on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
28 July 2011 (Thailand) See more »
Every father wants more for his son
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. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Nominated for Oscar. Another 6 wins & 7 nominations See more »
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User Reviews:
Examining Lives - A Father and Son Love Story See more (79 total) »


  (in credits order)

Demian Bichir ... Carlos Galindo
Eddie 'Piolin' Sotelo ... Himself

Joaquín Cosio ... Blasco Martinez

José Julián ... Luis Galindo

Nancy Lenehan ... Mrs. Donnely

Gabriel Chavarria ... Ramon

Bobby Soto ... Facundo

Chelsea Rendon ... Ruthie Valdez

Trampas Thompson ... School Security Officer

Tim Griffin ... Juvie Officer

Valorie Hubbard ... School Secretary

Dolores Heredia ... Anita

Isabella Rae Thomas ... Linda

Carlos Linares ... Santiago

Robert Peters ... Truck Driver

Richard Cabral ... Marcelo Valdez

Bella Balajadia ... Bella

Giselle Nieto ... Gigi
Luis Colocio ... Ruthie's Uncle (as Luis A. Colocio)
Ray Moreno ... Ruthie's Uncle
Yelyna De Leon ... Ruthie's Mother

Rolando Molina ... Jesus

Taide Acosta ... Young Woman
Joe Renteria ... Bearded Man
Isidro Vallin ... Payaso

Magi Avila ... Shot Girl
Henry Ambriz ... Mexican Singer
Miguel Alejandro Gaxiola ... Voz de Mando Singer
Jorge Arturo Gaxiola ... Voz de Mando Singer

Robert Renderos ... Busboy
Charles Currier ... Auto Mart Security Guard

Marlon Correa ... Prison Guard
Adrian Mojica ... Police Officer

Todd Felix ... Gabe Wettenal

Eddie Martinez ... Rey
Jason Medwin ... ICE Officer

Tom Schanley ... ICE Officer

Abraham Chaidez ... Coyote
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Lian Castillo ... Student
Darell M. Davie ... Prisoner

Maynor Lopez ... Gardener

Ruben Avitia ... ICE Officer (uncredited)

Rico Devereaux ... Bouncer (uncredited)

Patrizia Medrano ... Dancer in Nightclub (uncredited)

George Paez ... Nicaraguan (uncredited)
Abraham Rubio ... Club Bouncer (uncredited)

Tatiana Sarasty ... Young Woman (uncredited)

Directed by
Chris Weitz 
Writing credits
Eric Eason (screenplay)

Roger L. Simon (story)

Produced by
Jami Gertz .... producer
Laura Greenlee .... co-producer
Paul Junger Witt .... producer
Stacey Lubliner .... producer
Christian McLaughlin .... producer
Tony Thomas .... executive producer
Chris Weitz .... producer
Original Music by
Alexandre Desplat 
Cinematography by
Javier Aguirresarobe (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Peter Lambert 
Casting by
Carla Hool 
Joseph Middleton 
Production Design by
Missy Stewart  (as Melissa Stewart)
Art Direction by
Christopher Tandon 
Set Decoration by
Bryan Venegas  (as Bryan John Venegas)
Costume Design by
Elaine Montalvo 
Makeup Department
Kim Adrissi .... assistant makeup artist
Gloria Pasqua Casny .... key hair stylist
Sallie Ciganovich .... key hair stylist
Maggie Hayes-Jackson .... additional hair stylist (as Maggie Hayes Jackson)
Michael Marcellino .... key hair stylist
Mark Sanchez .... key makeup artist
Yoko Nobushi .... additional makeup artist (uncredited)
Production Management
Robb Earnest .... production supervisor
Laura Greenlee .... unit production manager
Jasmine Kosovic .... post-production supervisor
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Carlos De La Torre .... second assistant director
Marisa Ferrey .... second second assistant director
Ricardo Méndez Matta .... first assistant director (as Ricardo Mendez Matta)
Allison Rushton .... dga trainee
Art Department
Jim Bitil .... on-set greensperson
Joshua Borgese .... greens (as Josh Borgese)
Steve Borgese .... key greensperson
Jerry A. Chavez .... property master (as Jerry Chavez)
Denis Cordova .... construction coordinator
James A. Costello .... set dresser (as James Costello)
Kyle Craig .... labor foreperson
Jon De Pabon .... gang boss (as Peabo 'Jon' De Pabon)
Timothy Feimster .... on-set dresser (as Tim Fiemster)
Eloy Fernandez .... assistant property master
Luis Ivan Garcia .... art department production assistant
Ray Garcia .... set dresser
Lucia Gillot .... set painter
Jose Gutierrez Jr. .... art department coordinator
Brigitte Heichelbech .... set painter
Charles Hunter .... set painter
Anne Hyvarinen .... lead painter
Stephen Kelley Jr. .... set dresser
Charles Kern .... set painter
Noah Plunkett .... greens
Neil David Pontecorvo .... greensman
Catherine Pryor .... set dresser
Caroline Quinn .... set designer (as Caroline Quinn-Decker)
Lisa Robinson .... assistant property master
Richard Robinson .... propmaker foreperson
Aaron G. Rodriguez .... stand-by painter (as Aaron Rodriguez)
Dave Sliwa .... set dresser
Gary Thomas .... storyboard artist
David Touster .... set decorator buyer
Phil Tubach .... leadperson
Javiera Varas .... assistant art director
Christian Washburn .... on-set dresser
Sound Department
Mark Agostino .... audio playback operator
Wade Barnett .... adr recordist
Juan Cisneros .... sound utility
Lara Dale .... foley artist
Chris David .... sound re-recording mixer
Romain Drouillon .... french dubbing mixer
John R. Fors .... boom operator (as John Fors)
Terry Garcia .... assistant sound editor
Allen Hartz .... dialogue editor
Scott Hecker .... supervising sound editor
Ellen Heuer .... foley artist
Rick Hromadka .... additional sound editor
Kraig Kishi .... sound utility
Elliott Koretz .... additional sound editor
Tim Limer .... sound mix recordist
Yehuda Maayan .... sound mixer
Travis MacKay .... adr mixer
Eric A. Norris .... additional sound editor (as Eric Norris)
Derek Pippert .... foley editor
A. Josh Reinhardt .... foley mixer (as Joshua Reinhardt)
Miguel Rivera .... supervising adr editor
Miguel Rivera .... supervising dialogue editor
Scott Sanders .... sound effects editor
Roy Seeger .... additional sound editor
Gabriel J. Serrano .... sound re-recording mixer
Jon Title .... sound effects editor
Special Effects by
Charlie Bellardinelli .... special effects coordinator
James Bomalick .... special effects foreman
Emil Warren .... special effects (uncredited)
Visual Effects by
Kyle Gray .... compositor: Wildfire VFX
Elbert Irving IV .... visual effects coordinator: Wildfire VFX
Tom Lamb .... compositor: Wildfire VFX
Jim 'Big Dog' McLean .... compositor: Wildfire VFX (as Jim McLean)
Caleb Owens .... compositor: Wildfire VFX
Eric Pender .... compositor: Wildfire VFX
Lauren Ritchie .... visual effects producer: Wildfire VFX
Dottie Starling .... visual effects supervisor: Wildfire VFX
Wilson Tang .... digital restoration (uncredited)
Greg Anthony .... stunts
Danny Arias .... stunts
Daniel Arrias .... stunt double
Timothy Thomas Brown .... stunts (as Tim Brown)
Charles Currier .... stunts
Edgar Landa .... stunts
Nito Larioza .... stunts
Danny Le Boyer .... stunts
Will Leong .... stunts
Anthony Martins .... stunts
Jason Rodriguez .... stunts
Trampas Thompson .... stunt coordinator
Mark Vanselow .... stunts
Nito Larioza .... stunt double: Gabriel Chavarria (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Amy H. Abrams .... second assistant camera: "b" camera (as Amy Abrams)
Dustin Ault .... best boy rigging grip
Eric C. Castro .... rigging electrician (as Eric Castro)
Rafael 'Rafa' Castro .... video assist operator (as Rafael Castro)
John P. Cleveland .... grip (as John Cleveland)
Andreas Crawford .... dolly grip (as Andy Crawford)
Gary Dagg .... key grip
Dhamarata Dhiensuwana .... key rigging grip (as Dhamarata 'G' Dhiensuwana)
Louis DiCesare .... gaffer (as Lou DiCesare)
Danny Durr .... lamp operator
Tim Durr .... best boy electric
Eric Dyson .... first assistant camera: "b" camera
Michael Fauntleroy Jr. .... second assistant camera (as Mike Fauntleroy)
Ian Fox .... camera operator
Kirk R. Gardner .... camera operator: "b" camera (as Kirk Gardner)
Kirk R. Gardner .... steadicam operator (as Kirk Gardner)
Roy C. Granada .... rigging gaffer (as Roy Granada)
David Henri .... 24 frame playback operator
Ami Howard .... loader
Amy Howard .... camera loader
Joe Kelly .... grip
Carrie Lazar .... camera loader
Nick Liampetchakul .... rigging grip (as Nick Liapetchakul)
Bill Marti .... second assistant camera
Peter McAdams .... grip
Merrick Morton .... still photographer (as Merrick Rhodes Morton)
Ray Ochoa .... grip
Travis Phung .... rigging electrician
Martin Reder .... lamp operator
Nikola Ristic .... lamp operator (as Marty Reder)
Moulaye Sene .... lamp operator
Brian Silva .... lamp operator
Vich Thiensuwana .... rigging grip (as Vich Thienfuwana)
Mike Thomas .... additional camera operator
Tim van der Linden .... rigging electrician
Rodney Veto .... best boy grip
David Youel .... best boy rigging electric
Nico Bally .... technocrane technician (uncredited)
Jake Leannah .... electrician (uncredited)
Patriq Luo .... electric rigging best boy (uncredited)
Bruce Sharp .... rigging electrician (uncredited)
Mariana Sánchez de Antuñano .... first assistant camera: "a" camera (uncredited)
Casting Department
Lorin Semone Leifer .... casting assistant (as Semone Leifer)
Caitlin McKenna-Wilkinson .... adr voice casting (as Caitlin McKenna)
Tammy L. Smith .... extras casting (as Tammy Smith)
Dixie Webster .... extras casting (as Dixie Webster-Davis)
Tineka Becker .... casting associate (uncredited)
Kathryn Calogero .... casting assistant (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Jesse Anderson .... costumer (as Jesse Chloe Anderson)
Safowa Bright-Asare .... costumer
David Fernandez .... costumer
Maritza Garcia-Roddy .... costume supervisor
Anne Kemmeter .... additional set costumer (uncredited)
Editorial Department
Dannielle Carr .... post-production assistant
Michael Hatzer .... digital intermediate colorist: Technicolor
Chris Jensen .... senior digital colorist assist
Kindra Marra .... first assistant editor (as Kindra J. Marra)
Bob Peishel .... digital intermediate producer
Lara Ramirez .... assistant editor
Mark Sahagun .... digital intermediate editor
Leslie Adkins-Garza .... post-production coordinator (uncredited)
Harry Muller .... color timer (uncredited)
Darin Wooldridge .... home video mastering colorist (uncredited)
Music Department
David Arch .... musician: pianoi (as Dave Arch)
Jean-Pascal Beintus .... orchestrator
Christine Bergren .... music clearance and legal services: Christine Bergren Music Consulting
Nicolas Charron .... orchestrator
Peter Clarke .... assistant music editor
Phil Cobb .... musician: trumpet
Allison Cummings .... music clearance and legal services: Christine Bergren Music Consulting (as Ali Cummings)
Alexandre Desplat .... conductor
Alexandre Desplat .... orchestrator
Andrew Dudman .... music mixer: Abbey Road Studios
Andrew Dudman .... music recordist: Abbey Road Studios
Jim Ellis .... musician: mandolin
Xavier Forcioli .... music programming
Dalia Franco .... music clearance and legal services: Christine Bergren Music Consulting
Rebecca Gilliver .... musician: cello
Colin Green .... musician: guitar
Charles Martin Inouye .... supervising music editor
Paul Katz .... music consultant: Eye2Ear Music
Carmine Lauri .... orchestra leader
London Symphony Orchestra .... musicians (as The London Symphony Orchestra)
Gerard McCann .... supervising music editor
Sylvain Morizet .... orchestrator
Oh No .... composer: additional music
John Parricelli .... musician: guitar
Alexandra Patsavas .... music supervisor
Claude Romano .... music preparation
Marc Stevens .... recording manager: L.S.O.
Dan Thomas .... musician: mandolin
Kasey Truman .... music coordinator
Norbert Vergonjeanne .... music preparation (as Norbert Vergonjanne)
Brittany Whyte .... music coordinator
Transportation Department
James Andrews .... driver (as Jim Andrews)
George Bolton .... transportation captain
Rick Bowen .... driver
Steve Bridgeman .... driver
Jim DePue .... driver (as James DePue)
Rodrigo Dorame .... driver (as Rodrigo Dorame Jr.)
Wayne Flowers Jr. .... driver (as Wayne Flowers)
Jose Hernandez .... driver
Mark Holmes .... driver
Dennis Janovici .... driver
Joe Moraldi .... driver
Esteban Munoz .... driver
Nelson O. Noguera .... driver (as Nelson Noguera)
Peter Ortega .... driver
German Rodriguez .... driver
Federico Salas .... driver
Mario Simon .... transportation coordinator
Brian Stackhouse .... driver
Patrick Tousignant .... driver
Ted Trella .... driver
Norma Leonard .... transportation assistant (uncredited)
Other crew
Rachel Aberly .... unit publicist
Caellum Allan .... physical production
Maxine Arbarbara .... studio teacher (as Maxine Abarabara)
Roland Arenz .... assistant location manager
Diana Ascher .... post production accountant: Trevanna Post
Alex Barnoya .... set medic
Ellen Benjamin .... assistant: Mr. Witt
Christa Beth Watkins .... production assistant (as Christa 'Beth' Watkins)
Christa Beth Watkins .... production assistant
Charmaine Boos .... studio teacher
Carolyn Bowes .... production assistant
Linda Bracero-Morel .... production coordinator
Giselle Chruszcz .... assistant: Ms. Lubliner & Ms. Gertz
Andrew Cone .... assistant location manager (as Andy Cone)
Bob Craft .... additional location manager
Fermin Davalos .... location manager
Lida Davidians .... insurance: DeWitt Stern Group
Ron Dolecki .... legal services: Rosenfeld, Meyer & Sussman (as Ron E. Dolecki Jr.)
Steven Eddy .... physical production executive
Shayne Fiske .... production executive
Will Garcia .... craft service (as William Garcia)
John A. Hamby .... insurance: DeWitt Stern Group (as John Hamby)
Bridget Hart .... stand-in
Mary Hernandez .... accounting clerk
Erick Herrarte .... head chef
Pablo C. Herrera .... craft service (as Pablo Herrera)
Nathan Israel .... production assistant
Ismael Jimenez .... production assistant (as Ismael 'Cheese' Jimenez)
Evan Johnson .... assistant production coordinator
Quanita Johnson .... production finance manager
Ben Kraus .... production assistant
Ashley Kravitz .... clearances: Cleared By Ashley
Norma Jean Leonard .... production assistant
Melissa Lizardo .... production assistant
Romy Loor .... production assistant
Giovanni Lopez .... insurance: DeWitt Stern Group
Stephanie Mace .... production assistant
Liliana M. Molina .... script supervisor
Bradley Pero .... production assistant (as Brad Pero)
Oscar Pizano .... payroll accountant
Jeff 'Doc' Porter .... construction medic (as Jeff Porter)
Bryant Powell .... stand-in
Frank Reina .... production assistant (as Frankie Reina)
Jesus A. Reyes .... assistant to producer
Alfonso F. Ruiz .... assistant location manager (as Alfonso Ruiz)
Ahmed Saker .... construction medic
Omar Apanco Salgado .... stand-in
Loriel Samaras .... production assistant
Will Sandoval .... production assistant
Natasha Shumny .... post facilities coordinator
Todd Steiner .... production financing: Comerica Entertainment Group
Jared Underwood .... production financing: Comerica Entertainment Group
Brenda Vogel .... assistant: Mr. Weitz
Stephanie Wescott .... first assistant accountant
Bill Wesley .... key assistant location manager
Lavinia Zetina .... production accountant
David Keith Anderson .... dancer (uncredited)
Zoe Bower .... post facilities manager (uncredited)
Taylor Boyd .... key assistant location manager (uncredited)
Tana David .... post facilities coordinator (uncredited)
Erik Feig .... production executive (uncredited)
Marc C. Geschwind .... extras coordinator (uncredited)
Ari Joffe .... set production assistant (uncredited)
Richard G. Orozco .... location manager: prep (uncredited)
Michael James 'Scotty' Scott .... finance manager (uncredited)
Miguel Arteta .... thanks
Carlos Ávila .... special thanks

Production CompaniesDistributorsSpecial EffectsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
Rated PG-13 for some violence, language and brief drug use
USA:98 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Argentina:13 | Canada:PG (Ontario) | France:U | Mexico:B | Netherlands:6 | Singapore:PG13 | Singapore:NC-16 (DVD rating) | UK:12A | USA:PG-13 (certificate #46442)

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 »
Continuity: At 21:10, the size and shape of the bread that Santiago is giving to Carlos Galindo is different from different angles.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 »
Movie Connections:
Featured in The 84th Annual Academy Awards (2012) (TV)See more »


What film has 'A Better Life' been compared to?
See more »
13 out of 15 people found the following review useful.
Examining Lives - A Father and Son Love Story, 24 October 2011
Author: gradyharp from United States

A BETTER LIFE is one of the more understated films to come out of Hollywood, a film that has the courage to tell a story that is so politically charged - the immigration debate - that releasing it now is on the one hand asking for negative responses and on the other hand offers to the public the real truths behind our quandary about immigration. This country consists of immigrants - all of us - no matter how far back we have to trace our ancestry: the only people who did not begin their family history as immigrants from every country in the world and the Native Americans, and look how we are treating them! If this film does nothing else than plead the case of human understanding it will have accomplished more than legions of films that touch this subject too lightly.

Carlos Galindo (Demián Bichir, in an extraordinarily fine performance) crossed the border into the US with his new wife, looking for a way to improve his life. Upon arriving his wife gave birth to their son Luis (José Julián) and then promptly left Carlos in search of a better life, leaving Carlos to raise Luis alone. Carlos is an honest, caring man who must live in the shadow of being illegal: he cannot have a driver's license or papers that allow him the benefits of other people. Carlos has a steady job as a gardener with Blasco (Joaquín Cosio) who owns a truck and the two men work hard as gardeners.

When the film opens Carlos is saving is money from working with Blasco, living in a tiny house in the smarmy side of Los Angeles, trying to provide better schooling for his 15 year old Luis. Luis is of the age when he is easily influenced by his peers: his best friend is Ramon (Gabriel Chavarria) who is waiting to be of age to join the gang and forget about school in lieu of making money and living high. Luis is tempted to follow him, but he still attends school despite frequent absences and disinterest in education. Carlos is faced with a dilemma: Blasco wants to leave the business of gardening and suggests Carlos buy his truck and tools and start his own business. While Carlos sees the future in owning his own business (he can provide hope for a better life for Luis) he doesn't have enough money saved to buy the truck. His sister, indebted to Carlos for his protection and help, brings him her savings and Carlos buys the truck. Luis is surprised and then proud of his father's courage, but the happiness is short lived as one of the day laborers Carlos befriended - Santiago (Carlos Linares) - steals the truck, sells it on the black market and sends the money to his family in Mexico. It is this moment that provides an important turn for the relationship between Carlos and Luis. Luis bonds with his father and together they manage to locate the truck and take it back, only to be caught by the police for driving without a windshield. Carlos is jailed, Luis is devastated, but as Carlos is deported Luis pleads with him to 'come back home'. The film's ending tests the credibility a bit but it is heartwarming nevertheless.

The story as written by Eric Eason and Roger L. Simon is genuinely real and never veers toward the maudlin. They have created characters who not only demonstrate the importance of father son understanding and relationships, but they have approached the entire gamut of immigrant challenges and the manner in which this country deals with current immigrants in an honest manner. Without waving banners for or against immigration problems director Chris Weitz offers us the opportunity to see life from a different angle. One of the reasons this movie is so powerful in its impact and message is due to the brilliant performance by Demián Bichir, hopefully a candidate for an Oscar, and his performance is beautifully balanced by that of José Julián as his son. The film is scored by Alexandre Desplat and the music greatly enhances the rhythms of the story. There is such worth in this film that it would be wise for everyone in this country to view it - and remember our individual heritages and histories. Grady Harp

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