“Under The Same Moon” – Susan Granger reviews
Evoking memories of Cinema Paradiso, this engaging road movie traces parallel stories of a mother and son in Los Angeles and Mexico. After sneaking over the border, Rosario (Kate del Castillo) diligently works two house-cleaning jobs in Southern California, hoping that someday her nine year-old son, Carlitos (Adrian Alonso), can join her there. The highlight of her week is the ritual Sunday morning call which she makes to Carlitos from a payphone on an East Los Angeles street corner.
Lonely Carlitos lives with his ailing grandmother (Angelina Pelaez) in Mexico. When the frail woman dies, Carlitos scoops up the money his mother has sent and sets out to find her. Hes smuggled across the Texas border by students (Ugly Betty America Ferrera and Jesse Garcia) but loses his cash en route when their vehicle is impounded. That leaves him prey to a junkie who tries to sell him, presumably for child prostitution, but hes saved by a kind-hearted Latrina who hooks him up with a reluctant day laborer (Eugenio Derbetz) headed west. Its a long, difficult trip and all Carlitos has going for him is his irresistible sincerity, determination and ingenuity.
Screenwriter Ligia Villabos and director Patricia Riggen tackle the thorny subject of illegal immigration with intelligence laced with humor and velvet gloves. Young Adrian Alonso (The Legend of Zorro) exudes natural charm, as does luminous Kate del Castillo (Bordertown), whose outwardly composed character is so desperate that shes tempted to marry a Mexican-American security guard (Gabriel Porras), just to get her green card.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, Under the Same Moon is a timely, thoughtful 9. In Spanish with English subtitles, its a gem one of those rare films that truly touch your heart.