October 29, 2011 -- This movie puts the political hot-button issue of illegal immigration into a very personal perspective as a father, Carlos Galindo (Demián Bichir) takes some big risks to try to provide a better life for his young son, Luis (José Julián). This earnest, straightforward story follows a gardener as he tries to keep Luis in school, and away from gangs.
The odds are stacked against Carlos, who has worked for his friend Blasco Martinez's (Joaquín Cosio) small landscaping business for years. Blasco wants to sell his truck and all his landscaping equipment and retire to a farm in Mexico. Blasco wants Carlos to buy the truck. Carlos is afraid his illegal status will be discovered if he is caught driving the truck, but he needs the money he will make by taking over the business in order to better provide for Luis. Besides, if Blasco sells his truck to somebody else, Carlos could be out of a job.
Luis misses school too often and he hangs out with kids connected to gangs. Attempts are made to recruit Luis into gangs. He is teetering on the edge. Carlos' sister Anita (Dolores Heredia) is willing to help Carlos, but her husband is a difficult man to deal with. When Carlos finally buys the truck and seems to be on the way to a better life, you just know something bad is going to happen, and it does. A crisis actually brings Carlos and Luis closer together and Luis sees a daring courage in his father that he never knew was there. Carlos risks everything to provide a better life for his son, and his son is finally able to see that.
Although the structure of the film is conventional, the ending of the film is not. Much of the dialog in the film is spanish, but it is mostly an English language film from a director, Chris Weitz, who is best known for a very British comedy, “About a Boy.” The acting in the film is quite good, with a particularly effective emotional scene between Carlos and Luis. In some ways this is like a European film in that it is about ordinary people and social problems. American films are usually about extraordinary people. Unlike most films, it does have a real hero, Carlos. There are no big revelations about society in this film. It raises no new issues and there are no new perspectives. It is not a great film, but it is a good one. It rates a B.
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