It is hard for a young child to be away from his parents for a few hours, and in “Under the Same Moon,” one can only imagine what it must be like for 9-year-old Carlitos (Adrian Alonso), who has been away from his mother for four years.
Rosario (Kate del Castillo) left Mexico and migrated to Los Angeles where she works as an undocumented domestic worker. She and Carlitos try to keep in touch through Sunday phone calls, but that doesn’t prove to be enough for Carlitos. So when his grandmother dies, he is determined to make his own trek to L.A in search of his mother.
With the help of a smuggler, Carlitos enters the United States, but it is far from where he wants to end up. Just when the audience thinks Carlitos’ situation couldn’t get worse, it does. From nearly being sold to a drug smuggler, to working as a tomato picker, Carlitos perseveres and soon finds a guardian in Enrique, an undocumented migrant worker (Eugenio Derbez) who is not happy to have Carlitos as a traveling companion.
The two eventually put their differences aside and make their way to L.A, but as Enrique explains, often times immigrants live in fear and are not willing to give out addresses and phone numbers, so Carlitos has no way of knowing where his mother is. He must go on a scavenger hunt to find his mother, based only on the descriptions she gave him on their Sunday phone calls.
Although it is hard to ignore that a story of a mother and a son torn apart by unfortunate circumstances is enough to bring anyone to tears, it is important not to ignore the underlying message.
This film isn’t meant to take a political stance or force people to agree with immigration, but it makes people think twice about the life of an immigrant. “Under the Same Moon” gives people insight into a world so few know.
?It allows the viewer to step in the shoes of somebody trying to leave their home country behind. This film is not only for people who have parents that have made the journey, or who have made the journey themselves, all types of people will find resonating impact within the film. There is a message of human compassion. It shouldn’t be an issue of “us” and “them,” but should be one of finding a solution to a problem that affects everyone.
The film’s one flaw is that at times it chooses sentiment over reality. The relationship between Rosario and Carlitos is a definite tear-jerker, but that relationship tends to overshadow the seriousness of immigration, and it is up to the viewer to see past the tears.
?With the upcoming presidential election, this is the perfect opportunity to watch a film that educates on an issue that is criminalized and is often misrepresented. This is a chance for people who support or oppose immigration to watch a film that provides background for their argument.
The film shows the bleak lives of immigrants, but at the same time shows that despite the bleakness, the prospect of hope and perseverance are the key to life.