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A Better Life
BLU-RAY disk
10.31.2011 By: Chris Bumbray
A Better Life order download
Director:
Chris Weitz

Actors:
Demian Bechir

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
An illegal immigrant (Demian Bichir) living in East L.A with his son, while toiling as a gardener, manages to scrape enough money together to buy his former employers truck and tools- allowing him to go into business for himself. His dream of a better life is threatened when heís rewarded for a random act of kindness by having his truck and tools stolen. In order to protect their livelihood, father and son take to the streets of East L.A to find their truck, and protect their dream.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
A BETTER LIFE is a film I heard an awful lot about this summer. I must have seen the trailer thirty times at my local AMC, but after underperforming in the US, the planned expansion to Montreal never happened, and I wasnít able to check it out.

Itís really too bad that A BETTER LIFE didnít find more of an audience, as it really is a terrific film. Director Chris Weitz, after spending the last few years working on big-budget, soulless films like THE GOLDEN COMPASS and NEW MOON, rebounds nicely in with a film thatís easily his finest since ABOUT A BOY.

Itís worth noting that A BETTER LIFE is actually a modernized remake of the classic Italian Neorealism film, BICYCLE THIEVES (aka- THE BICYCLE THIEF). The bike is replaced by a truck, but other than that the soul of the film remains intact. Both follow a kind-hearted working man, whose only dream is to provide for his family, but his own goodness and trust in others leads to his downfall.

In the lead, Demian Bichir is a revelation. Mostly known in North America for his arc as Nancy Botwinís cartel-kingpin husband Estaban on WEEDS, A BETTER LIFE reveals Bichirís substantial talent in a performance that deserves serious Oscar consideration. Heís amazing, as a humble man, beaten down by life who, nevertheless, manages to hold on to his compassion. Thereís a great scene late in the film where him and his son find one of the men responsible for stealing his truck. His son, raised in the LA gang-culture, starts to beat the man who hurt his family, but Bichir- even though his life has been irreparably damaged by this man, begs his son to stop, and treats the man with compassion. Itís a great scene in a great film.
THE EXTRAS
A fairly slim package, with a thoughtful commentary by director Chris Weitz , some deleted scenes , and a spanish music video .
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
A BETTER LIFE really is an excellent piece of work that deserves to find an audience. Anyone who wants to see a good soulful drama needs to give this a look. Hopefully, Academy members will too.
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