7.2/10
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A Better Life (2011)

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

Director:

Chris Weitz

Writers:

Eric Eason (screenplay), Roger L. Simon (story)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 6 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »

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Photos

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Demián Bichir ... Carlos Galindo (as Demian Bichir)
Eddie 'Piolin' Sotelo ... Eddie 'Piolin' Sotelo
Joaquín Cosio ... Blasco Martinez
José Julián ... Luis Galindo
Nancy Lenehan ... Mrs. Donnelley
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
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Drama

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Director: Chris Weitz
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

Every father wants more for his son

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

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 »

Connections

References America's Got Talent (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

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.
See more »

User Reviews

Great Lead Performance in Tender Drama
30 January 2012 | by Michael_ElliottSee all my reviews

Better Life, A (2011)

*** (out of 4)

Tender story of a Mexican illegal immigrant (Demian Bichir) living in Los Angeles and working as a gardener in hopes of giving his 15-year-old son (Jose Julian) a better life. The father thinks he's on the right track when he buys his partners truck and tools but they end up getting stolen so he goes out with his son to try and track them down. There's no question that this film was influenced by Vittorio de Sica's THE Bicycle THIEF as both features familiar plots but while this movie isn't nearly in the same league, the two lead performances and the tender story make it worth watching. I guess it should go without saying but there's nothing too original here. Not only is this film influenced by the Italian classic but we've also seen countless movies where a young man is faced with doing what's right and making a good living or going down the wrong path and joining a gang. This subplot with the son hanging out with the wrong group and them wanting to get him into a gang really doesn't add too much to the movie as we've simply seen it too many times. To be fair, we've also seen the hard-working father trying to teach his son a lesson but it's told very beautifully here by director Chris Weitz. The director manages to make several of the scenes quite memorable and I'm not going to spoil the biggest one but it comes towards the end and really wraps the story up nicely. Of course, the biggest benefit the film has going is the performance by Bichir as the father. The movie and performance got very good reviews when it was originally released but most people, including myself, missed it until Bichir was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar. Most people didn't recognize the name or film but once you do watch this you're going to understand why he got so much praise. Just look at Bichir's eyes to see how much passion he gives the character and this is especially true in the scenes where he's thinking over his future and what he wants to see for his son. The performance is extremely tender and the actor makes the role his own. Julian is also very good as his son and manages to turn in a strong performance even when his character doesn't get the best moments. A BETTER LIFE is certainly far from flawless but the movie has some terrific drama and there's no question that it makes you feel for the father and care what happens to him.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

28 July 2011 (Thailand) See more »

Also Known As:

The Gardener See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$10,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$62,087, 26 June 2011

Gross USA:

$1,759,252

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$1,863,506
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | DTS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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