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A Better Life Review Critics


Grae Drake Profile

Two impressive actors in a cliché world. Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 70

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Kirk Honeycutt

    By keeping things simple and understated, director Chris Weitz and screenwriter Eric Eason have crafted a little gem where humanity is observed with compassion, not condescension.

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  • 83

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    A Better Life was directed by the eclectic Chris Weitz (The Twilight Saga: New Moon, About a Boy), who weaves the torpor and anxiety of immigrant life into something dramatically true, if at moments a bit draggy.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    The performances are pitch perfect, even including Gabriel Chavarria as Ramon, the man who steals the truck. It adds an important element to the film that he embodies a desperate man, not a bad one.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 14+

Eye-opening social drama about immigration and family.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this enlightening, sometimes heartbreaking drama about the illegal immigrant experience pulls no punches in its portrayal of a hardscrabble life, addressing the challenges that the undocumented face without lecturing -- or pandering. Expect the occasional barrage of swearing (including "f--k" and "s--t"), some teen drinking, and a frank look at the lure of gang life in the city. Guns are used, and there are some fights.

  • Families can talk about how the movie portrays undocumented workers and their families. Is it objective, or are viewers meant to take away a specific message? Would you consider that message political?

  • What is the film's take on the immigration debate? Do you agree? Why or why not?

  • How does the media typically depict father-son relationships? How does this movie compare?

The good stuff
  • message true3

    Messages: Amid the movie's often harsh realities is an inspiring message: Hope springs eternal, and that's a good thing. You can't let life, no matter how difficult, harden you.

  • rolemodels true3

    Role models: Carlos, despite all the problems flung his way, is honest and principled. He can even find compassion for the man who wronged him. And though his son at first seems attracted to a life of thuggery, in the end, it's family -- specifically, his father -- that's most important and most influential. His aunt, too, supports his father.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    Violence: References to gang activity, including beat downs. Teenagers tussle and chase after a classmate in an attempt to get even for his extortionist ways. Guns are fired; threats are hurled. A man attempts to wrestle a thief, whom his son then starts to hit ferociously.

  • sex false1

    Sex: A teenage couple flirts and kisses.

  • language false4

    Language: Swearing isn't constant but includes words such as "f--k," "s--t," "a--," "bitch," "damn," and "hell."

  • consumerism false1

    Consumerism: Some signage visible, including Tecate.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Brief drug use, and teens are shown drinking beer. Some additional social drinking.