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Better Life (2011) A Better Life (2011)

           Carlos's fondest dream is to give his son Luis a better life in east Los Angeles: "You don't want to grow up to be like me," he tells Luis. But that's easier said than done. He's a single dad, an illegal immigrant, and doesn't have a driver's license. He works from dawn to dusk in mow-n-blow, rents a cottage that's peeling paint, and collapses onto the sofa bed each night after a grueling day of physical labor. His strategy is "to remain invisible." Luis thinks his dad is a loser, is cavalier about missing school, and is flirting with gangs. Carlos buys his friend's truck with borrowed money, including the equipment and clients; it's his chance at the American Dream, but also risky. The truck gets stolen, and you know this story can't end well for anyone. Director Chris Weitz makes the film work at several levels — a tender father-son drama, a sympathetic snap shot of life as an undocumented worker, perhaps a political statement, and as a cultural tour of east Los Angeles that looks, sounds, and feels utterly foreign to most of us. A Better Life has won numerous awards and nominations.

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