‘Moon’ tugs at heart, makes its point

“Under the Same Moon” will prod us into considering the issues surrounding illegal immigration, but
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“Under the Same Moon” will prod us into considering the issues surrounding illegal immigration, but it is hardly a movie that qualifies or attempts to pass itself off as a definitive work on that subject.

It is primarily a movie about a mother and her son. They may live under the same moon, but not in the same town or country. Rosario, the mother played by Kate del Castillo, is working as a maid in Los Angeles. Each month, she sends money back home to 9-year-old Carlitos, who lives with his grandmother.

‘Under the Same Moon’

DIRECTED BY Patricia Riggen

SCREENPLAY BY Ligiah Villalobos

STARRING Kate del Castillo, Eugenio Derbez, Adrian Alonso, Gabriel Porras and Maya Zapata

RATED PG-13

RUNNING TIME: 106 minutes

As a result, Carlitos lives relatively well in Mexico. He may have a new backpack and sneakers, but he does not have the warm presence of a mother he has not seen in four years. Each Sunday, Rosario calls home from the same pay phone in Los Angeles, always describing the corner from which she is speaking. It is an important detail to consider as the story unfolds.

Searching for his mom

Rosario misses Carlitos. Carlitos misses Rosario. When Grandma dies, Carlitos, a brave, precocious child, will pay teenage runners a handsome sum to transport him across the border to Tucson, still a long way from Mama, who has no idea her mother is dead or that her little boy is making his way toward her.

“Under the Same Moon” certainly qualifies as a melodrama. As such, it leaves itself open to charges of being mushy or soppy. Though I can understand these objections, they take a back seat to the narrative’s tender, human touch.

On its most basic level, politics aside, the movie reminds us of the situation many illegal immigrants live with. The movie does not designate fault here. We understand it’s a depiction of things as they are, acknowledging all the while that this little boy’s solo journey is hardly the norm. That’s the melodrama, and as the story of a boy searching for his mom, it is not on the same level as “The Italian,” last year’s Russian movie about a boy searching for a mother who gave him up for adoption.

Still, “Under the Same Moon” is not heavy or preachy. Along the way, we encounter characters who are not one-dimensional but real and fully drawn. Not only the mother and the boy, but Paco, a suitor played by Gabriel Porras. In Arizona, Carlitos meets up with Enrique (Eugenio Derbez) an illegal immigrant who begrudgingly agrees to be the boy’s guide. Like the grizzled figure Wallace Berry played in 1930s films, he’s gruff and impatient with the kid. But as we will see, there is more to this guy who will turn out to be a true buddy.

Cultural barometer

“Under the Same Moon” is a small movie, but it is genuinely affecting. Its value as a cultural barometer is the way in which it calmly reminds us that we may need to balance our political ideas about immigration with compassion for the people out to make a decent living for the sake of their families.

Categories: Entertainment, Life and Arts

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