This is one of those movies er sorry `films' that should have reached a much wider audience. It tells the story of an illegal immigrant from Mexico to East L.A. called Carlos Galindo (Demian Bichir), he has sold his labour for a few dollars to give his son the chances that he never had. Only problem is that he is an illegal and so therefore works for a pittance and that means he can only live on the wrong side of town. This means his only son Luis has to go to East Los Angeles High School for Gang members etc. A place where having `twatoos', (as I call them), is de rigueur. Luis though seems to try to avoid all of that but it is nigh on impossible to not get swept up in that sub culture.
Meanwhile Carlos's boss, who he gardens for, is leaving and offers to sell him his truck and therefore the gardening business. He asks his hard pressed sister for a loan and decides that this is his big chance to really change things through honest hard work. Luis has been spending his time being suspended from school and or watching MTV shoeing programmes of `cribs' of Gangsta rappers and the juxtaposition with their one bedroom pit could not be more stark. This new venture though seems to make him take note.
This film by director Chris Weitz is an understated gem. He also gets all of his actors to do all of the stunts thus to keep the realism there and avoid stunt doubles. He also does all the stunts first himself to prove they can be done. He takes us on a tour of life as an underclass and how it is such people who are the unseen and unappreciated workers in the background that do so many of the jobs no-one else wants. That is not paraded for anyone though it is simply laid out for you to judge (unlike Loach's `Bread and Roses' for example).
Whilst this is a story of struggle and bad breaks it still maintains a kind of forlorn hope that things can get better and that is one of its main strengths. It is a well made acted and shot piece of cinema and I think deserved a lot more plaudits than it has ever received. Whilst not world cinema it is dealing with global issues, as seen through the microcosm or lens of a father and son and how they cope with the lot that life has dealt the. Touching, moving and a great film all round.