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
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
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
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-
“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.