When I spoke with Chris Weitz and Demian Bichir on November 1, 2011 about A BETTER LIFE, there was already a buzz about Bichir’s performance as an undocumented worker dreaming of a better life in the United States. It was also the second round of press tours for the duo, and that was the first thing I wanted to talk about. As the conversation continued, we covered the lengths Weitz and Bichir went to in order to assure authenticity in depicting a world neither of them knows first-hand, what it means to have been part of a project that neither one can really leave behind, and why a nation of immigrants is so quick to close the door behind them.
Weitz has wended a winding road to A BETTER LIFE with stops for AMERICAN PIE, ABOUT A BOY, and TWILIGHT:NEW MOON. Bichir has the distinction of having an MTV-Mexico award that is not only named for his family, but in which only his family can compete. In the United States, he has essayed the role of Fidel Castro in Steven Soderbergh’s CHE, and romances Nancy Botwin in the Showtime series Weeds.
A BETTER LIFE is a moving and heart-wrenching story of a father and son divided by their path to the American Dream. Bichir is Carlos, an undocumented alien keeping a low profile working seven days a week as a gardener while drifting further and further apart from his son, Luis, who finds himself drifting towards gang life in East L.A. In an ironic turn of events, when Carlos takes a chance that goes bad, it’s also a chance for father and son to reconnect. Weitz directs from a script by Eric Eason that was based on a story by Roger L. Simon.