Sunday, April 13, 2008

Under the Same Moon (La Misma Luna)

Under the Same Moon (La Misma Luna) is a film about a young boy's quest to be reunited with his mother. Carlito, played by Adrian Alonso, lives well with his grandmother in Mexico while his mother (Kate del Castillo) labors in Los Angeles. In a brief scene early in the film, we are given a glimpse of the path not taken: Carlito has a friend who lives in abject poverty, peddles gum on the street for cash, and wishes that he "had a mama who sends him money for new shoes."

Politics and economics set the stage, but they are not the story in this film. The story is Carlito's journey to find his way to his mother after his grandmother's death, and like every little-boy-lost in literature, he encounters the best and the worst of humanity along the way. The characters and the performances are what makes the film well worth its 106 minutes of run time. We learn quickly with Carlito that it is very difficult to tell a helpful person from a bad guy, especially when the choices are limited. We experience the sweetness of small kindnesses in a large, uncaring world.

Some critics have complained about the sentimentality of the film, or fussed about the politics. It's a sentimental subject -- a nine year old and his single mom? -- and the political situation is merely the setting. It may be that it will change some minds about immigration, but I doubt it. The truths in this film have more to do with truths about the human spirit than with ideology or politics.

The final beauty of this little film is the ending: it ends at precisely the right moment.

Thumb's up.


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