Laura CliffordRosario (Kate del Castillo) made the dangerous border crossing from Mexico into the US some four years ago and has faithfully sent home $300 a month to support her 9-year old son, Carlitos (Adrian Alonso), and her mother. The boy, whom she calls at exactly 10:00 every Sunday morning, sorely misses his mother and, when grandma suddenly dies, he sets of on his own arduous journey to find his beloved mom in “Under the Same Moon.”
This is a mother-son tale that tells its parallel stories from the POVs of Rosario and Carlitos. Rosario experiences the trials and tribulations of being an illegal alien trying to eke out a life working as a housekeeper in LA. When she politely refuses to do something, immediately, one of her employer’s demands, she is fired and stiffed of her back pay. Without the job, it is doubtful that she can continue sending money home to her son and she ponders marriage to a nice man, Paco (Gabriel Porras), whom she doesn’t love.
Carltos faces the death of his grandmother and the possibility of being adopted against his will by his birth father’s brother and sister-in-law. He seeks the help of a family friend, Dona Carmen (Carmen Salinas), who has a side business trafficking in illegal immigrants, but she refuses, with good reason, to help him. Undeterred, the boy takes his nest egg of $1200 and makes his way across the border into Texas. From here we follow little Carlos as he makes the arduous journey to East LA. On the way there, he meets a blackheart who tries to sell him and a junkie, Enrique (Eugenio Derbez), who, against his better judgment, befriends the kid and helps to reunite him with Rosario.
Director Patricia Riggen, with a script by Ligiah Villlobos, tells a heartfelt but predictable story (I guessed the ending before the halfway mark) that benefits from the sheer personality of its characters. Young Adrian Alonso holds his own as the sympathetic Carlitos, making the boy’s trek solidly interesting. Kate del Castillo is charming and effective as his mom, with her hard-fought efforts to bring her son back to her garnering empathy from the viewer.
But, it is the supporting cast that makes this more than a mild, easy to figure out melodrama. Euginio Derbez is terrific as the conflicted Enrique. He resist Carlitos’s charisma, at first, but his humanity forces him to help the 9-year old, to great sacrifice. Carmen Sallinas, too, gives a fully developed performance as the tough businesswoman with a heart of gold who cares about young Carlos. Jacqueline Voltaire is Wicked Witch of the West bad as the arrogant woman who fires Rosario for no real reason – except that she can.
Techs are good with lensing very well done by Checco Varese, showing the sunny South West to nice effect. The salsa-laden score by Carlo Siliotto suits the pic well.
Under the Same Moon” wears its heart on its sleeve but you can forgive it for its schmarm. I give it a B-.
Laura gives "Under the Same Moon" a B-.
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