The human face of a hot button

May 04, 2008

When this movie ended, everyone in the audience just sat there for a few minutes, trying to pull ourselves back together. As we filed out, still blubbering, the theatre manager said she’d seen it three or four times and fell apart at each viewing. 

“Under the Same Moon” is the story of Carlito, a Mexican boy who will do anything to be reunited with his mother, who is working in the U.S. It’s a classic hero’s-journey tale, but it also puts a beautifully-drawn human face on the immigration issue. My friend Carol and I are both working on novels that touch on the issue of immigration in some way, so we had the perfect excuse to play hooky.

From the perspective of writing craft, it’s my favorite kind of story. It features classic archetypes–the plucky, unstoppable kid you can’t help but root for, the cranky guy with a heart of gold, various mentors, allies and enemies along the way. In the best possible way, this movie doesn’t care what you think of the immigration issue. It just presents this one situation, knowing you’ll draw your own conclusions. I bet there are reviewers out there who despise this movie, the way there are critics who despise commercial fiction. Some people are so uncomfortable with genuine sentiment that they can’t possibly be fair about a film like this.

There is a class of movies I tend to file under “Films every American Should See.” There aren’t very many of them. Off the top of my head, I can think of a few–“Hoop Dreams,” “Glory,” “Apollo 13,” “The Color Purple,” and “October Sky” come to mind. “Under the Same Moon” belongs on that list. Go see this movie. It’ll stick with you for a long time, guaranteed.

Wishing everyone a joyous Cinco de Mayo!

 

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