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Under the Same Moon

A sentimental tale of a mother-son bond that transcends immigration woes

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In her debut feature, Patricia Riggen tells two intertwined stories unfolding over one week -- that of Rosario (Kate del Castillo), an undocumented worker in Los Angeles, and of Carlitos, her bright 9-year-old son who sets out from Mexico alone to reunite with his much-missed mother. This is pretty gooey stuff: There's plenty of pining on both sides of the border, legal setbacks and personal tragedies, and a fortunate number of very helpful strangers. Yet while the mechanics of Moon's heightened, contrived narrative may ring false, a darker larger reality engenders sympathy -- that is, the tough emotional hurdles faced by families separated by economic decisions such as immigration. As the plucky Carlitos, young Adrian Alonso is almost too adorable, but how can you not root for such a polite and determined little boy? Eugenio Derbez portrays Carlitos' crotchety traveling companion (as mandated by all road movies). Derbez is a trifle telenovela, but Gabriel Porras provides a nice contrast as Rosario's shy suitor. In English and Spanish, with subtitles. Starts Fri., April 18. Manor (AH) [capsule review]

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