Monday, April 7, 2008

Under the Same Moon

Fernando Romero

Under the Same Moon.

La Misma Luna is a heart-wrenching film layered with sociopolitical topics centered on the thematic story of the bond of two distanced souls; that of a mother and her son.

Under the Same Moon revolves around 9-year-old Carlitos. He hasn’t seen his mother Rosario (Kate Del Castillo) in four years after she left him in the care of his grandmother and headed to “the other side” to look for work and a better life for both. After the grandmother passes away, Carlitos (13-year-old Adrian Alonso) is fixed on being reunited with his mom even though he doesn’t even know her address. And so begins a journey of epic proportions as Carlitos makes his way north encountering the realistic tribulations many migrant workers endure to set foot on American soil.

Seven moons and seven suns rise and fall as Carlitos searches for his mom and she toils away as a maid in Los Angeles. Amidst his odyssey, Carlitos meets a migrant worker named Enrique (Eugenio Derbez).

The movie is a crowd-pleaser and feeds to people’s innate feelings balanced with moments of glee and melancholy. It was raw and touching and because of its core story is undeniably affecting.

Not since the Lion King had there been the pervasive futility of tears strolling down cheeks. The movie does a superb task of engaging the viewers with emotionality that sometimes brinks on the abyss of sappiness.

The movie’s poignancy was fueled by its debatable topic but devoid of any polarization brought on by politics. It is a movie that speaks to Latin Americans depicting the harsh realities of migrant workers crossing over, the complexities of life, of death, of sacrifices; but most importantly it is about family and the unequivocal bond of a mother and her son. But it even speaks to outsiders saying, “Yeah… it is that fucked up!”

Moments of great acting and raw emotions are weaved throughout. The levy of waterworks broke five minutes into the film when Rosario herself bursts into tears. In a weekly phone call between mother and son, a saddened Rosario tells Carlitos she loves him “te quiero mi amor” and sets down a palpable bond between the two. The audience can’t help but empathize with Carlitos. When both Enrique and Carlitos reach Los Angeles, they search up and down for Rosario only to literally walk right past her while she sat on a bench; a scene which beckons any audience to gasp with a quasi-dying breath of anxiety.

The actors delivered strong performances. Del Castillo aptly epitomized the beautiful and struggling mother. Carlitos is the quintessential tyke with sad big brown eyes and has the audience eating out of the palm of his hand. Derbez stood out for his lone-wolf archetype characterization of migrant worker Enrique. Derbez, known for his humor, shows that comedians know funny, but they also know sad as he takes the audience on the transgression of Enrique’s character and commits the ultimate sacrifice to ensure Carlitos sees his mother one again.

Albeit the movie falls a bit short of perfection. Too many coincidences along the way. Abundance of stock characters. It relies heavily on too many plot devices including a “Chekhov’s Gun” in the form of a street corner where Rosario calls Carlitos every Sunday.

Nonetheless, La Misma Luna is definitely worth checking out because it is a movie the importance of family bonds. A well-done film about an all-important topic which deserves light to be shed upon. In the end, it numbs the issue of immigration and reminds us we’re all human, stating that it is love which makes the world go round.

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