I’ve heard a lot of great things about the film Under the Same Moon, or its Spanish version, “La Misma Luna.” Both professors and students, young and old, have expressed their appreciation for the 2007 drama directed by Patricia Riggen. It tells the mesmeric stories of a young boy living in Mexico and his mother living in the United States, dreaming of being reunited one day. After so many recommendations, I decided to pick Under the Same Moon off the shelves of Casa Video.
The plot commences with the daily lives of both Carlos Reyes, a 9-year-old living in Mexico with his grandmother, and Rosario Reyes, his mother who has found work as a nanny and housekeeper in Los Angeles. The two have been separated for four years now, and Carlos wants nothing more than to cross the U.S.-Mexico border and find his mother.
Right off the bat, action ensues. Carlos is introduced to a couple who volunteers to bring him north in exchange for money. When they arrive at border patrol, Carlos is hidden in the car, but because his transporters are both Mexican—and U.S. citizens—they are stopped, searched, and questioned. Eventually, border patrol has the car impounded with Carlos trapped inside. From there on, it’s a disastrous journey for the young boy. He loses all of his money, is almost sold to a wealthy drug lord, is forced to outrun the INS, hitchhike rides, work for food and shelter, lose his father for the second time in his life– the list goes on and on.
My immediate reaction to Carlos’s entire persona is that he is one of the bravest and most courageous 9-year-old boys I have ever seen. But I know that there are so many young children (even younger than Carlos) that try to cross the border every year and endure these types conditions and events. A lot of these kids suffer from starvation and being robbed, and a lot of them die from horrible weather conditions or Mexican gangs. So many of these children are not only brave, but are forced to grow up a lot faster than much of the children in the U.S. This is exactly what Carlos had to do. He voluntarily finds work both picking tomatoes and at a restaurant to make enough for bus fare. He seeks out help from other immigrants and immigrant helpers, and is able to adjust to and trust people who he had never seen before. He even develops police smarts and is careful to keep distance from U.S. authority. It truly is remarkable how such a young boy is able to do this by himself. You could say that I admire his guts, but that’d be an understatement.
Then, on what seems the other side of the world, there’s Rosario, who is just making ends meet through her two housekeeping jobs and dress sales. She sends Carlos $300 a month for food and clothes, but she is also saving other money in hope of eventually returning to Mexico. She is fired from one of her jobs, and her situation shows how difficult working in the U.S. can be for some illegal immigrants. Rosario’s boss refuses to pay her and laughs at Rosario when she knows there is nothing Rosario can do about it since she cannot call the police. It’s sad and depressing that wealthy people often find the need to take advantage of the poor and underprivileged just because they know they can. Soon, Rosario begins planning her trip back to Mexico.
You can sense the connection between Rosario and Carlos from the beginning. The two really love each other and want nothing more to be together again. Rosario has been away for four years, but she knows that Carlos needs a mother. This is why she begins to feel guilty and plan her return to Mexico. She begins to realize that family is the most important part of her life, and Carlos is all that she has.
In the last scene, Carlos finds Rosario, after a horrifying journey north. It is the happiest moment in the movie and it made me feel both super happy and sad. I can’t imagine how many children must go through the same process in order to be with their parents again, and this film shows how difficult that can be.
Once again, I would recommend this movie to family and friends. I think the plot evokes many emotions and draws you to both the characters of Rosario and Carlos. I think that many of the situations the two found themselves in are realistic and bound to happen time and time again.