Sensitive director Patricia Riggen has, in LA MISMA LUNA (UNDER THE SAME MOON), succeeded in creating a story about the travails of the illegal immigrants from Mexico that serves as a reminder to all of us that one of the reasons for the obsession to take the risks of crossing the border is an attempt to find a better life. While this story concept is by no means a novel one, writer Ligiah Villalobos has provided a script that avoids taking sides, but instead concentrates on creating wholly believable characters caught in the web of immigration - from both sides of the wall. This little film from Mexico is, above all, a film about love, about courage and about resilience and is portrayed by a very fine cast in every role.
Rosario (Kate del Castillo) is a single mother who crossed the border four years earlier in order to support her young son Carlitos (a superb young actor, Adrian Alonso) and her ailing mother by working double jobs as a housekeeper in Los Angeles. She keeps in touch with Carlitos with weekly phone calls and sends him gifts as well as money and love. When Rosario's mother dies, Carlitos takes life into his own hands and plans to cross the border with a little help from his experience with a wise old lady Coyota (Carmen Salinas) who aids immigrants. With his savings in his backpack and his heart aimed toward Los Angeles he sets out on his journey and is thwarted at every turn. He is picked up by two Hispanic students from the US (America Ferrara and Jesse Garcia) whose attempt to transport Carlitos is halted at the border - with the little Carlitos hidden under the seat of the now towed away car. Carlos escapes from the car in El Paso, meets up with some illegal workers who are arrested, leaving the hidden Carlitos with a reluctant companion Enrique (Eugenio Derbez) who is able to aid Carlitos (reluctantly!) to escape to Los Angeles. Through many 'jobs' and untoward situations Carlitos finally finds his way to the spot where he hopes he will meet his mother.
The rhythms of the cinematography, the sets, the flavors of both sides of the border, and the music that accompanies the film all contribute to making this story real and believable - and VERY touching. While Kate del Castillo is the major star of the film, it is the performance by Adrian Alonso that remains in the mind long after the credits are shown. Some viewers may find this film a bit too 'novella-like', but the magic that Patricia Riggen pulls from her large cast and verismo directing style will touch the hearts of most everyone. A fine little reminder of the other aspects of the Immigration topic! Grady Harp, June 08