Perhaps still lurking in the shadows of Indy and Iron Man you might find a little Fox Searchlight movie called "Under the Same Moon." If so, I can't urge you strongly enough to go see it right away.
This one has been playing at our local Regal theater for at least six weeks now, but I had until now somehow managed to just dismiss it. I think my fears were it would be a) a polemic about immigration, b) a super sappy flick that's just way too sweet for me or c) a religious movie.
I really have no idea where I got the third idea from, but it's the only that's completely wrong. What Patricia Riggen has instead delivered here is a perfectly charming movie that is indeed about immigration and is fairly often super-sappy, but never in a manipulative way.
I've been surprised that there haven't, before now, been more mainstream movies about this subject that clearly impacts the lives of so many people. I suppose it would be the perfect subject for a "Traffic"/"Crash"-type ensemble drama, and if I'm not mistaken there is indeed one coming very soon with a slew of big stars attached to it. I do have some stomach for those (though words can't truly describe just how much I hate "Crash"), but I prefer movies like Riggen's which examine the most fragile of human ties and the forces that bend them to the breaking point.
But I guess a word or two about what this flick's actually about would be in order before I go any further. And when you look at it on paper, it does indeed ooze sap from every pore. At the outset we see a phone call from Rosario (Kate del Castillo), an illegal immigrant of some degree who's working as a maid in L.A., to Carlitos, the young son she's left behind with her mother in Mexico. When grandma dies, young Carlitos (Adrian Alonso) decides he has to brave the journey to America to reunite with his mother. You can probably guess if he gets there or not, but if you can't I certainly won't tell you, and even if you can it's still well worth watching the journey unfold.
Del Castillo does a great job of portraying just how devastating it can be to live with that much uncertainty, but the real stars here are Alonso and Eugenio Derbez as Enrique, an illegal laborer who forms an unlikely bond with our young hero. Once the two of them reluctantly hit the road together the movie is full of small moments of grace, and it's here where Riggen's "message," if there is one, comes out. As the two of them are on the bus bound for L.A., Enrique turns to Carlitos and says "nobody chooses to live like this." By forcing us to think about just how wrong or right he is, Riggen and screenwriter Ligiah Villalobos subtly make a very powerful point.
If you're looking for an enjoyable detour from the blockbuster expressway, I really can't recommend this little movie highly enough. Enjoy it while (and if) you still can. Peace out.