Under the Same Moon

Director: Patricia Riggen

Cast: America Ferrera, Adrian Alonso, Jesse Garcia, Kate del Castillo, Eugenio Derbez, Maya Zapata, Carmen Salinas

Genre: Drama

Rated: PG-13

Review By:
Michael Dance

School:
NYU Tisch '07

Quote:
"...And hey, I met you. You are not cool." -Almost Famous

Release Date: March 19th, 2008
Overall Grade: B-

Under the Same Moon

Review By: Michael Dance
MichaelDance@TheCinemaSource.com

Under the Same Moon

Under the Same Moon – or rather, The Same Moon if you’re going by a more direct translation

of its Spanish-language title, La Misma Luna – is the kind of charming, sappy drama that screams

“crowd pleaser”. It already won the hearts of Sundance, where it received a standing ovation.

With a universal mother/son theme and extremely likable actors, the praise is understandable – even though

it’s not quite deserved.

Mexican soap opera actress Kate del Castillo plays Rosario, mother of young Carlitos (Adrian

Alonso from The Legend of Zorro). For the past few years, she’s been living illegally in the U.S.

working as a housekeeper, sending money back home to Mexico for Carlitos and his grandmother. But when

the grandmother dies, Carlitos smuggles himself across the border in an attempt to find his mother in

Southern California.

Most of the story follows the young boy on his perilous, often cutesy journey, cutting back every so often to

keep tabs on Rosario. Young Alonso – who’s actually about to turn fourteen but has yet to grow – does a

heck of a job carrying the movie on his back; he’s got a great presence and is so likable you expect him to

get cloying after a while, but he doesn’t.

Most of the attention poured on the film will undoubtedly be its stance on immigration. Officially, the

filmmakers will tell you that this is not a political film but rather just a simple story about a mother and son,

etc, but that’s a blatant lie. The expected scenes – the border patrol inspecting the car Carlitos is hiding in;

police raiding a plantation to hunt for illegal immigrants – are filmed objectively, but there’s a heavy pro-

immigrant influence to the whole project. At one point, a song comes on the soundtrack about how

Superman should be forced to leave since he’s technically an illegal alien; at another point we hear two

Mexican DJs riffing on the hypocrisy of Schwarzenegger’s anti-immigration policies.

The film is of course entitled to its political views, but let’s not pretend they’re not there. Before watching the

film, I considered myself to be sympathetic toward illegal immigrants’ situations, but I actually became a little

annoyed by the automatic sense of entitlement that most illegals are presented as having – especially when

many of their real-life compatriots actually follow the rules and go through the process of becoming legal

citizens.

Worse, these are the only three types of United States citizens portrayed in the film: (A) Wildly cartoonish rich

elitists, (B) drug addicts, or (C) whiny young Chicanos who have shunned their Mexican heritage. All the

Mexicans, meanwhile, are portrayed as warm, loving, and family-oriented.

If you ignore the political aspects of the film (much like some of you have undoubtedly skimmed over the last

three paragraphs),

it’s a charming and heartwarming adventure, etc. Will Carlitos make it across the border?

Will the rough-around-the-edges loner Carlitos meets (Eugenio Derbez) eventually become a

surrogate father on his journey? Will he reunite with his mother? Is the sky blue?

Movie Grade: B-

Synopsis:

“Under the Same Moon” tells the parallel stories of nine-year-old Carlitos and his mother, Rosario. In the hopes of providing a better life for her son, Rosario works illegally in the U.S. while her mother cares for Carlitos back in Mexico. Unexpected circumstances drive both Rosario and Carlitos to embark on their own journeys in a desperate attempt to reunite. Along the way, mother and son face challenges and obstacles but never lose hope that they will one day be together again. Riggen’s film is not only a heartwarming family story; she also offers subtle commentary on the much-debated issue of illegal immigration.

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