Release Date: March 19
Director: Patricia Riggen
Writer: Ligiah Villalobos
Cinematographer: Checco Varese
Starring: Kate del Castillo, Eugenio Derbez, Adrian Alonso
Studio/Run Time: The Weinstein Company, 106 mins.
While some films seek to illustrate an issue by taking an expanded view of the world, La Misma Luna attempts to dramatize the issues of the Mexican-American border through one single family. When Carlitos’ (Adrian Alonso) grandmother dies, he decides to cross the border alone to find his mother Gabriela (Kate del Castillo) in America where she has been working to obtain, through unclear means, American citizenship. This journey is fraught with rather clichéd peril, as Carlitos struggles to get closer to his goal in a country indifferent to his struggle.
It’s no spoiler to say that Carlitos reaches his mother and a happy ending ensues, since the plot is so choreographed from the beginning as to leave no real suspense in the film. Unfortunately, this also removes any tension, making the plot simply a narration of possible problems for immigrants. Since La Misma Luna simplifies the issues to such a great extent, though, the events that drive the story forward seem both unrealistic and unnecessary. The tender reunion of a family torn apart by international problems makes this an undeniably heartwarming film, but so are many after school specials—and for much the same reasons.
In some ways this hackneyed plot can be excused, since much of the film is simply a road story from point A to point B. But this doesn’t quite work in La Misma Luna, largely because its characters fail to be more than trite stereotypes. With the exception of Enrique, given a brilliant ambivalence by Eugenio Derbez, every Mexican character is good and charitable while every American is harsh and only looking to earn a buck. There is no personal growth because there are no people, only characters.
Perhaps La Misma Luna should be cut some slack since its heart is in the right place. The problems it attempts to address are real ones, and seeing films, books or any other medium work to confront them is something that should be commended. At the same time, the type of facile representations offered by the film do little to address the real issues at hand. Deconstructing a major political issue through an uplifting family story can be done, but it takes a level of craft and depth that La Misma Luna unfortunately lacks.