The subject of illegal immigration is a hot topic these days. It has become a political hot potato that has divided a nation suffering from a weakened economy and looking for someone to blame.
Amazingly, this film stays clear of all that and tells a simple story about a determined father and his unwavering devotion to his only son.
Like many Mexicans looking for a better life for their families, Carlos Galindo (Demian Bichir) and his wife made the trip northward and settled in the Los Angeles area.
There, they had a son, Luis (Jose Julian), who has grown into a teenager on the verge of some important decisions in his life. He doesn’t want to mow lawns like his dad, but hesitates getting into the gang scene because that usually ends badly as well.
Luis’ mom left them years ago. She wanted a life a simple gardener couldn’t provide. Luis is bitter. Carlos understands.
Most nights, Carlos comes home after a hard day and falls asleep on the couch. Turns out, that’s where he sleeps every night, preferring to let his son get a good night’s rest in their small home’s only bedroom.
Carlos has tried his best to instill good values in Luis. He insists that he stay in school, even though Luis skips class once in a while. Carlos tells his son that if he wants money, he should come work with his dad and earn it. Luis is frustrated with their meager life.
When Carlos’ boss decides to head back to Mexico, Carlos takes a chance and buys the boss’s truck and equipment so he can carry on with the landscaping business on his own. A sister loans him the money. Carlos is hopeful. He sees a future for his small family.
However, when the truck and all of the gear are stolen, he realizes he can’t turn to the authorities, but must rely on his own wits and his son to find the missing items.
If this is starting to sound like the old Italian classic “The Bicycle Thief,” that’s not too far off. This is a powerful film, featuring a tremendous performance from Demian Bichir, best known as the powerful drug lord and politician Esteban from “Weeds.”
No matter where you’re from, this dynamic tale of a father’s love for his son is as universal as it gets.