“Under the Same Moon” tells a most engaging story about the power of love between a mother and son in 21st-century North America. “La Misma Luna” (its Spanish title) doesn’t try to explore the complexities of politics and economics in the U.S.-Mexico immigration scene. It simply focuses on the heart-wrenching social aspects through the eyes and hearts of believable people.
Kate del Castillo plays Rosario, an undocumented worker in Los Angeles who risked her life crossing the border several years ago. She loves her son, nine-year-old Carlitos (played memorably by Adrian Alonso) from afar, making Saturday morning phone calls and dutifully sending $300 each month back to him in rural Mexico.
Carlitos remains under the care of (but basically cares for) an ill grandmother. When his “abuelita” dies, he conjures a way to cross the border to find his mother. He ventures into risks beyond his imagination.
Having no address for his mother, only a description of a general area, he sets off. Soon, however, he is at the mercy of a couple of bungling “coyotes” who smuggle him across the border for $1,000. The border crossing is a perilous moment and one that evokes the Lord’s Prayer from the boy.
Carlitos eventually encounters another undocumented worker named Enrique (played nobly by professional comic Eugenio Derbez). Initially, Enrique wants nothing to do with the boy, but Carlito’s importunate but likable behavior slowly wins over the older, more cynical Enrique. Carlitos even displays ingenuity in procuring a job for the two of them that results in needed bus fare money for the trip to Los Angeles.
While Carlitos desperately moves through his own quest, Rosario endures traumas of her own—despite the fact she has learned English and is a competent worker. Compounding her dilemma is an opportunity to marry a legal citizen.
“Under the Same Moon” delivers some light-hearted moments in the latter part of the film as Carlitos continues to win over people with his charm, especially in the case of the hardened Enrique. At one point, the two playfully, if not competitively, sing along to the radio. The irony of the dueling song is that the lyrics deal with the fact that even the governor of California is from another country.
The final part of the movie is touching, but not overly-melodramatic. One would be heartless if the final scenes did not provoke empathy, compassion and some sobering questions, like: What is great sacrifice? What will one not do for the sake of love? What risks do I take for the sake of abiding love? This movie does inspire and should convict.
“Under the Same Moon” will be seen as controversial by those who want all undocumented workers to leave the United States. Christians, however, are constrained by the mercies of Jesus to see the issue from more than just the economic and geo-political perspectives. We must also incorporate our convictions of helping the downtrodden and seeking justice.
For us as Christians, we’re not solely dealing with a 21st-century North American issue; we’re dealing with eternal issues of the Kingdom.
Don Sewell is executive liaison for missions relationships for Baptist General Convention of Texas.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some mature thematic elements.
Director: Patricia Riggen
Writer: Ligiah Villalobos
Cast: Rosario: Carlitos: Adrian Alonso; Kate del Castillo; Enrique: Eugenio Derbez; Padrino: Mario Almada; Chito: Isaac Bravo; Oscar: Ernesto D’Allesio; Marta: America Ferrera.
The movie’s official Web site is here.