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A Better Life

Academy Award-nominated Mexican actor Demián Bichir plays the role of an undocumented father

En español | Think of the powerful and moving film A Better Life, opening June 24, as a Bicycle Thieves for the 21st century.

In the 1948 Italian neo-realist classic Bicycle Thieves, a thief steals a poor workingman’s bicycle, essential to his job posting Rita Hayworth signs around town. As the man and his son set off to track down his only means of transportation, the film becomes a tragic meditation on poverty and the desperation of people at the margins of society.

See also: 2012 Movies for Grownups Awards.

Movie - A Better Life

— Courtesy of Summit Entertainment

In A Better Life, the protagonist is an undocumented Mexican gardener in Los Angeles, Carlos Galindo (played with magnificent dignified understatement by Demián Bichir), whose truck is stolen. Unable to report the theft to the police (they might discover his immigration status and deport him), Galindo sets off through the mean streets of East L.A. to find the key to his livelihood.

“[Undocumented workers] are in the United States to make their lives better and happier,” says Bichir, a major star in his native Mexico, who has also appeared in the movie Che and the TV series Weeds. “These people are proud of the country they are living in.”

But this hardworking gardener has problems that go beyond the vehicular. He’s a single parent (his wife has walked out on him) with a teenage son, Luis (newcomer José Julián), who is attracted to the gangbanger world and has little respect for the down and dirty work papi is doing to make a better life for his child.

Next: A short course on the immigration debate. >>

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