Under the Same Moon [La Misma Luna]
It might not be the biggest issue in the upcoming presidential election, but it's arguably among the top ten: immigration. Specifically, what to do with the estimated 11 million people who currently live in the U.S. illegally. While the candidates discuss the staggering statistics and proposed policies, Under the Same Moon shows us the more personal (if not a tad heavy-handed) side of the issue.
On a macro level, Under the Same Moon is a story about immigration, but on a micro level it's a story about Rosario (Kate del Castillo), an illegal immigrant working three jobs in L.A., and Carlitos (Adran Alonso), her nine-year-old son back in Mexico. Rosario snuck across the U.S. border four years earlier with her friend Alicia (Maya Zapata), a harrowing journey that left Rosario with a nasty scar on her arm. As is the story of many immigrants, Rosario came to the States to earn a better life for her son than she ever could back in her economically depressed hometown in rural Mexico. Her son's father isn't in the picture.
While Mom is away, Carlitos lives with his ailing grandma. Thanks to the $300 his mom sends each month, he's able to attend a good school, unlike some of his friends who spend most of their life on the street. Though he enjoys a decent life, Carlitos still aches for the mom he hasn't seen in four years. Their weekly phone call, with each on a local pay phone, isn't nearly enough for this precocious boy who's wise and mature beyond his years.
Rosario previously tried to bring her son to live with her, but the lawyer she hired split with her hard-earned money. She needs $4,000 to hire a new lawyer, and she's saved only $2,300 so far. She knows it will take another year or more to save the needed funds from her house-cleaning jobs. Faced with this truth and with Carlitos's growing desperation in their weekly phone calls, she contemplates moving back to Mexico.
Meanwhile, back in Mexico, Carlitos's grandmother dies suddenly, leaving him vulnerable to a creepy uncle who seems more interested in the monthly money his mom sends than in Carlitos's personal welfare. So Carlitos quietly sneaks away to go find his mother. He finds a pair of young Hispanic Americans willing to smuggle him across the border for the $1,000 he's saved. But when a border guard impounds the van due to the pair's unpaid parking tickets, Carlitos finds himself in a random parking lot just inside the U.S. border.
What follows is a daring and scary adventure as Carlitos attaches himself to a string of strangers—some good, some bad—in an attempt to get to the return address on the letters he receives from his mom. Rosario has no idea her beloved son is going to such risky lengths to find her—mirroring the risks she once took, and continually takes, to provide for him.
While I'm no expert on the immigration issue, I have known a few illegal immigrants over the years in the English as a Second Language classes I've volunteered with. The story of Rosario and Carlitos rings true to many of the people I've known—hard-working souls striving for a better education or a better life for themselves or for the beloved sons, daughters, wives, or siblings they hadn't seen in years. As with so many dicey issues in our culture, it was easier to see immigration as much more black and white until I met Carlos and George and Rosalita.