A Better Life is the story of Carlos and his son Luis and Carlos attempt to provide his son a better life than what he has been given through hard work and hopefully some good fortune. This paper will look to summarize the movie through a perspective of the two main characters growth throughout the movie, as well as talk about some of the overriding themes of the movie and American culture relating to illegal aliens. The themes discussed will be stereotypes of “illegals,” the poor quality of life, and the injustice these people live every day.
The movie starts with Carlos working and trying to grind out enough money to help him and Carlos, his somewhat troubled but still sensible high school aged son. Luis seems to be a victim of circumstance. He is very selfish and takes his fathers hard work for granted. He is bitter and doesn’t appreciate the sacrifices his father makes for him to keep food on the table and a roof over their head. He skips school regularly and gets into fights. To make things worse he hangs out with a poor crowd, his girlfriend has family ties with El Barrio (the Mexican Gangs) and his best friend wants to be involved with the gangs. We see a tremendous shift in his character throughout the movie though. When his fathers truck gets stolen he is right beside his dad looking to find the man who stole it. He wants nothing more than to help his father regain what he rightfully paid for. He gains some knowledge of his heritage at the Nacional Charro and gains a deeper respect for his people and heritage. When his father gets sent to jail he is deeply hurt and heads home to a message to find out he is being deported. He desperately reaches his aunt to take him to see his father one last time and they get to talk one last time before he goes back. It is a touching conversation and it ends with Luis telling his father that he must come back because he can’t live here on his own. He goes on to live with his aunt and it is safe to assume that he cleans his act up and gets a good education at a better school and does well for himself.
The protagonist of the movie is Carlos. He is a hardworking illegal alien who is looking to earn a living and stay out of the radar of the police so that he can stay here with his son. He can barely keep food on the table, but does provide. He is a hard worker and never cuts corners. He is a law abiding “illegal” citizen. He does what is necessary and best for himself and his son. Throughout the whole movie he is a man of integrity except for one time, and that ends up costing him his ability to live in the United States.
Carlos’s boss, Blasco, wants to sell him his truck and move back to a farm in Mexico and asks Carlos if he wants to buy his truck. Carlos really wants to because he could maintain all of Blasco’s clients, but be the main man making more money. He simply can’t afford the truck though, so he takes out a $12,000 loan through his sister Anita and buys the truck. Carlos is ecstatic and is thrilled to be the owner of his own business. He can now do business his way and be the head honcho. He is still going to need help and finds a man named Santiago, who was willing to give Carlos bread on the corner when he was hungry. As Carlos is climbing a tree to do work he leaves his keys and phone and Santiago steals the truck.
The search begins for Santiago and Carlos and Luis are bonding for the first time throughout the whole movie. They find a man who takes him to where he lives, but he has bolted and moved closer to where he works. They find a picture of the restaurant and wait for it to open. When it does they find Santiago and Carlos chases him down but Luis is the one who catches him and begins beating him. Carlos begs him to stop and slaps Luis when he doesn’t. Luis bolts and Carlos finds out that he sold the truck and sent the money to his relatives back in Mexico. He does find out where it was sold though, but must find Luis before...