This narratively maneuvered, yet gradually emotional picture considers the trickiness of illegal immigration.
Under The Same Moon or La Misma Luna (in Spanish/English with English subtitles) has a similarity in story and setting to the acclaimed, globally interlocking Babel.
In Los Angeles after passing north of the border, Rosario (Kate del Castillo) toils as a house-cleaner without a green card. Every Sunday morning she calls beloved nine-year-old son Carlitos (Adrian Alonso of The Legend of Zorro) who lives in Mexico from a payphone, with the intent of his being with her down the road.
The somewhat manipulative trekking tale begins to build momentum once Carlitos' enervating grandma (Angelina Pelaez) passes away.
Carlitos uses the money sent by his mother and is off to locate her. Many obstacles come his way after two Mexican-American students (America Ferrera of TV's "Ugly Betty" and cinema's Real Women Have Curves and Jesse Garcia) bring him across the border into Texas.
The presence of a Latrina samaritan sets him on course with a tentative migrant worker, well-acted by Eugenio Derbetz. The westward excursion is one that requires much more than determination.
Director Patricia Riggen and her scribe Ligia Villabos are able to present much sincerity and wit, especially in the interplay between Alonso and Derbetz. In spite of a diagrammed, not so fair-minded approach, there is something appealing and topical as the parallel stories are traced with intimacy, especially in its lensing. Maybe the soundtrack becomes sonorous when tension arises.
Besides the durable Derbetz, Gabriel Porras is noteworthy as a security guard drawn to Rosario. Yet, as loving son and as his persistent, desperate mother, Alonso and del Castillo go a long way to make the often impounded Under The Same Moon as illuminating and heartfelt, even for those far away from the border patrols.