Under the Same Moon (2008)


Director:  Patricia Riggen
Cast:  Eugenio DerbezKate del CastilloAdrian Alonso
Plot:  A young Mexican boy travels to the U.S. to find his mother after his grandmother passes away.

Genre:  Drama
Awards:  -
Runtime:  106min
Rating:  PG for some mature thematic elements.


Foreign films are a blast this year. Holland's Black Book, Hungary's Children of Glory and Taxidermia, and China's Red Cliff have one way or another prove that foreign films can be better than their Hollywood counterparts. Now, enter the hit melodrama, Under the Same Moon, which is definitely one of the best Spanish films to hit our shores since Pedro Almodovar's Volver

It marks the directorial debut of Patricia Riggen whose assuredness behind the camera reminds that of seasoned filmmakers, and writer Ligiah Villalobos whose screenplay about a child finding his mother in a foreign land is likely to strike a chord with most viewers. 

Under the Same Moon follows the thematic footprints of similar pictures such as
Brazil's Central Station, Czechoslovakia's Kolya, and Italy's Cinema Paradiso, and does it remarkably well despite obvious pitfalls that would have downed the film. 

Riggen's film plays well to viewers' expectations, and with a couple of surprises thrown in for good measure, the picture rarely shows signs of fallacy.  The screenplay is an effective balance of melodramatics and earnestness, never once treating viewers as pawns like dictating how we should feel, or when we should cry. 

The leading cast of Kate del Castillo (Rosario) and Adrian Alonso (Carlitos) give five-star performances as mother and son respectively, naturally providing depth and believability to the characters they portray.  Another honorable mention goes to supporting actor Eugenio Derbez who plays an illegal immigrant who befriends Carlitos.  

Derbez's role is very important to the film because the changes in his character’s attitude have indirect and often immeasurable consequences to how the lives of people close to Carlitos are affected.  It is a life lesson on selflessness and unconditional empathy.

"My mom told me to look at the moon whenever I miss her, because she will be looking at it too."  Yes, the world is vast and harsh.  But the story that is told in this film teaches us to always treasure the moments we have with our loved ones, and that no matter how far apart we are, when things gets dark and we look up into the sky, we will always see the same focal point, the same shining beacon. 

Under the Same Moon is not spectacular in any aspect, but the sincerity of the performances and the touching story make this the most inspirational film at this time of the year. 


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