(Review never published; written in 5/2008)
Filmed on location in Mexico and in Los Angeles, Under the Same Moon marks the third directing effort by Patricia Riggen, who won an award at Sundance Film Festival for her short documentary entitled Family Portrait (2004). The Spanish-language film acquaints the majority of its American viewers with an unfamiliar point of view: that of the illegal Mexican immigrants risking arrest, deportation, and sometimes a good old fashioned nightstick battering from the INS, which they call the “Migra,” in order to make money from the lowest-paying jobs America has to offer. Legal or not, these immigrants are still people with the same basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter as anyone else.
At the same time, however, the film earns contempt. The flawed and quirky characters charmed me more often than not, but sometimes – particularly in the latter half of the 109-minute duration – the plot would twist in unlikely directions in attempts to raise the stakes and increase the dramatic payoff at the conclusion.
I commend Under the Same Moon for its premise, politics, and setup, but I wish that screenwriter Ligiah Villalobos would have spent a couple more hours at the drawing board ironing out wrinkles in the diegesis.
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