'A Better Life' -- 2 1/2 stars

<b>PG-13; 1:38 running time</b><br><br> "A Better Life" is a curious picture in every way: curious about the undocumented residents of Los Angeles and, less helpfully, curious in its mixture of sincerity and slick manipulation. Without giving the game away entirely, this story of a Mexican-born gardener, his at-risk teenage son and a stolen truck culminates in a scene in which the excellent leading actor, Demian Bichir, confronts his son, Luis, played by Jose Julian. Playing a profoundly decent man pushed to the limit, Bichir taps everything he has as an actor here, which is everything the character and the film require and more. The best of the scene transcends words, and language; the best of it is, in fact, nonverbal. -- Michael Phillips<br><br>Read the <a href=http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/movies/sc-mov-0705-a-better-life-20110708,0,3514748.column>full review</a>

PG-13; 1:38 running time

"A Better Life" is a curious picture in every way: curious about the undocumented residents of Los Angeles and, less helpfully, curious in its mixture of sincerity and slick manipulation. Without giving the game away entirely, this story of a Mexican-born gardener, his at-risk teenage son and a stolen truck culminates in a scene in which the excellent leading actor, Demian Bichir, confronts his son, Luis, played by Jose Julian. Playing a profoundly decent man pushed to the limit, Bichir taps everything he has as an actor here, which is everything the character and the film require and more. The best of the scene transcends words, and language; the best of it is, in fact, nonverbal. -- Michael Phillips

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