Who's In It: Demian Bichir, Jose Julian, Eddie Sotelo, Joaquin Cosio, Nancy Lenehan, Chelsea Rendon, Gabriel Chavarria
The Basics: Carlos (Bichir) is an illegal Mexican immigrant just trying to get his hands on a chunk of the American dream. He finally found steady work as a gardener, and even though his work keeps him from his teenage son Luis (Julian), it doesn't keep him from hoping that one day things will get better. Luis is busy maneuvering through the uncertainty of high school, complete with gangs, crime, and normal youthful malaise. Sadly, Carlos buys a truck to start his own business which is promptly stolen. I'm sure you can guess that the delicate thread they are all hanging by finally snaps.
What's The Deal: This is one of the many movies meant to make you take pause when spouting opinions about immigration (see also: Under the Same Moon, Sin Nombre, A Day Without a Mexican). I always like when someone decides to make a film about the disenfranchised, because like most people, I love the underdog. At this point, I've seen plenty of these "To Assume Makes an Ass out of You and Me (but Mostly You)" flicks and know better than to presume I know anything about other people's lives just by looking at them (are you listening, Arizona?). With that in mind, the plot of this film is pretty tired--after all, one of the most notable first appearances of it was in 1948 with De Sica's Bicycle Thieves. This movie could have been lots of sad people walking around with sad eyes, looking through windows of fancy restaurants with their noses pressed against the glass. Luckily, there was a saving grace that makes it a noteworthy addition to the genre.
Viva Los Actores: Demian Bichir is spectacular as Carlos. He is one of those pros that reminds me what acting is all about--he can convey universal emotions in even the smallest change to his demeanor. This movie went from garden-variety to compelling in just one shrug of his shoulders. I couldn't take my eyes off him the entire time. Now that I look through his credits, I need to revisit Weeds and Che just so I can catch another glimpse of him. And his movie son Jose Julian is no slouch either, with this being his second credited film. Together, the two of them make a forgettable script interesting. I completely bought their relationship and felt like a fly on the wall.
But The Fact Still Remains: This is just a recycling of other more well-rounded films. I enjoyed watching the intimacy that arose out of crisis between these two characters, but the rest of the picture feels too familiar to be impressive.