The PJ Tatler

"A Better Life" reviewed by the Hollywood Reporter

From the review by Kirk Honeycutt in the Hollywood Reporter:

The Bicycle Thief, directed by Vittorio De Sica and written by Cesare Zavattini in 1948, long considered one of the classic films of Italian neo-realism, tells the story of a poor man and his son. Their search for a stolen bicycle the father desperately needs for work becomes a journey that explores poverty and desperation. A Better Life from the always surprising director Chris Weitz employs the same strategy to open up the lives of a Mexican gardener in East Los Angeles and his Americanized son.

Their search for a truck becomes an odyssey of powerlessness and anxiety that creates greater understanding between father and son, who are virtually unaware of each other’s lives. Meanwhile the movie tracks the hard reality of what it means to be without documents in American society. By keeping things simple and understated, Weitz and screenwriter Eric Eason (working from a Roger L. Simon story) have crafted a little gem where humanity is observed with compassion, not condescension.

You don’t make a film like this expecting the kind of grosses Weitz’s films such as New Moon or About a Boy generated. But with targeted marketing and promotions, Summit Entertainment could have a modest box-office hit in A Better Life following its L.A. Film Festival premiere. Who knows — it may even pick up a nomination or award at year’s end.