A Better Life captured the attention and hearts of many students and faculty Monday night at Fuller Arts Center.
The film event was hosted by Carol Mitchell, the 2013-2014 Distinguished Springfield Professor of Humanics and film professor at Springfield College, and co-sponsored by the William Simpson Fine Arts Series.
The film depicts the hardships and difficulties of being an illegal immigrant in America. The movie pinpoints the emotional struggle of a single father, Carlos Galindo, played by Academy Award nominee Demian Bichir, trying to find work, to support his 14-year-old son Luis Galindo, played by Jose Julian, and create his own “American Dream.”
Throughout the film, Carlos and his son face many hardships that leave the viewer feeling somber, as Bichir illustrates the character and portrays him as the underdog throughout the entire film. From his facial expressions to his calm demeanor, Bichir gives a wonderful performance that allows the audience to fall in love and connect with him.
In addition to the remarkable performance by Bichir, the cinematography of the film was fantastic. The movie takes place in Los Angeles, Calif. in poverty-stricken, gang-controlled areas. The set is exactly how you would imagine it with run-down, beat-up homes, graffiti on every building side, and the police patrolling the streets 24/7, adding to the seriousness of the film and making the situation seem more realistic.
The film takes on intense issues, such as gang violence in L.A., close to where Carlos and Luis live. Luis dates the niece of a local gang leader and runs into many encounters with the gang throughout the film, including receiving the chance to join, but turns them down.
The theme of family appeared many times throughout the film. The first connection was with Carlos and his sister Anita, who gives him 12 thousand dollars he needs to buy a truck so that he can start his own business and pursue his dreams.
The second and most important connection is between Carlos and his son, Luis. In the beginning of the film, they didn’t communicate much; viewers could tell that Luis didn’t have much respect for his father and that he looked down on him for being a garden worker. Later on in the film, his dad’s truck gets stolen, after which, the viewer starts to see a shift in their relationship as their bond becomes stronger.
Luis sees how hard his father works to support them and give them a better life. The most emotional part of the movie is the scene at the end when Carlos is about to be deported and he tells Luis the reason why he and his mother had him, and how important Luis is to him. This moment undoubtedly captured the hearts of every member of the audience.
After the film, a panel, moderated by Mitchell and made up of Gary Berte (assistant professor of Criminal Justice at Springfield College), Daniel Russell (professor of Social Science at Springfield College), and Daniel Patrick Morrissey, a local immigration lawyer, allowed the audience to ask questions and give their opinions on the film and situations similar to the characters in the film.
A Better Life gave an accurate representation of the hardships that many undocumented workers face while trying to create a better life for themselves and their families. It was an eye-opening film that allowed the students and faculty at Springfield College to learn about immigrants from a whole new perspective.