*Spoiler alert! Details of Demián Bichir’s Oscar-nominated performance in A Better Life exposed here!
Bummed all the hype surrounding the Oscars is over? Hopefully the annual awards show opened your eyes to some fantastic films. One that I would personally urge you to see is A Better Life.
Mexican actor Demián Bichir was nominated for Best Actor for his performance in this timely film about immigration. Bichir plays Carlos Galindo, an honest, hardworking gardener and undocumented Mexican immigrant living in East Los Angeles with his teenage son. The struggles Carlos faces as a single father are exacerbated by his undocumented status and the gangs that are constantly trying to recruit his son, Luis.
Despite his good intentions and honest efforts to provide “a better life” for his son, Carlos is eventually set to be deported after stealing back his pickup truck from a used car lot. The truck was stolen from Carlos by another undocumented immigrant, Santiago, who also worked for Carlos’s budding gardening business. After discovering that Santiago sold the truck for money to send to his family, Carlos’s unyielding empathy leads him to see his and Santiago’s commonalities despite how different they may seem. What makes Bichir’s performance so impressive is his ability to shed light on that gray area between one’s commitment to integrity and the harshness of reality.
The film is particularly relevant to the political rhetoric surrounding immigration in the United States today. In perhaps the most difficult scene to watch in A Better Life, Carlos and Luis have just one minute to say goodbye to one another before Carlos is deported to Mexico, leaving Luis orphaned. This gut-wrenching scene is hard enough to watch for two minutes in a scripted movie, so imagine how difficult this is in the real lives of families who are torn apart by deportation every single day.
The final scene of the movie leaves us with an image of Carlos in the desert with several other migrants making the journey to the United States. His last line is “Vamos a la casa” or “Let’s go home,” from which we can assume he risks everything to make the trek northward to reunite with his son.
A Better Life invites you to consider the ways in which U.S. immigration policy affect decent, hard-working people trying to build better lives for themselves and their families. Check out this movie yourself and see if you learn something new about the experiences of undocumented immigrants. Or just check it out to see if Demián Bichir’s performance was Oscar-worthy like I thought it was. Either way you are sure to come away with a better understanding of the toll deportation takes on the family.
To watch the trailer, click here.