“Under The Same Moon” – Susan Granger reviews

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110_moon.jpgEvoking 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. He’s 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 he’s saved by a kind-hearted Latrina who hooks him up with a reluctant day laborer (Eugenio Derbetz) headed west. It’s 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 she’s 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, it’s a gem – one of those rare films that truly touch your heart.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.