'A Better Life' Critic Reviews

75%
MovieWeb:   0 reviews
84%
Rotten Tomatoes:   107 reviews
  • Owen Gleiberman Entertainment Weekly (Top Critic)
    75
    Weaves the torpor and anxiety of immigrant life into something dramatically true, if at moments a bit draggy.
    Full Review » 4 years ago
  • Manohla Dargis New York Times (Top Critic)
    70
    It's unusual for a director to scale down again as dramatically as Mr. Weitz has with "A Better Life," but it's done him good.
    Full Review » 3 years ago
  • Cath Clarke Guardian [UK] (Top Critic)
    60
    Bichir carries it all with a measured performance of considerable emotion as the dad, clenched by so many years holding his breath, waiting for the knock at the door.
    Full Review » 3 years ago
  • Claudia Puig USA Today (Top Critic)
    No matter where you stand on immigration, A Better Life is must-see viewing, poignantly revealing what it's like living confined to the shadows of contemporary society.
    Full Review » 3 years ago
  • Ann Hornaday Washington Post (Top Critic)
    75
    "A Better Life" might not change any minds about immigration policy, but it illuminates the conversation with context, compassion and understanding.
    Full Review » 3 years ago
  • Wesley Morris Boston Globe (Top Critic)
    63
    It's generic and small but manages to reel you in and surprise you with its grimness.
    Full Review » 3 years ago
  • Melissa Anderson Village Voice (Top Critic)
    A Better Life takes on the combustible topic of illegal immigration through the soft, safe focus of father-son bonding, with a heavy nod to The Bicycle Thief.
    Full Review » 4 years ago
  • Elizabeth Weitzman New York Daily News (Top Critic)
    60
    With its careful compositions and message-minded dialogue, Chris Weitz's modest drama feels more earnest than real. Still, its sincerity is admirable, and often touching.
    Full Review » 3 years ago
  • Amy Biancolli Houston Chronicle (Top Critic)
    88
    It's straight, true and heartbreaking, a masterstroke of raw emotional minimalism.
    Full Review » 3 years ago
  • Joy Tipping Dallas Morning News (Top Critic)
    92
    Director Chris Weitz neatly avoids sanctimony by centering the engrossing story on a father-son relationship, letting the audience make up its own mind about the overarching matter of illegal immigration.
    Full Review » 3 years ago
  • Glenn Kenny MSN Movies (Top Critic)
    60
    ...a little more sensibility applied to its sensitivity could have brought it to a much better place.
    Full Review » 4 years ago
  • Richard Brody New Yorker (Top Critic)
    The story unfolds without hagiography, pity, or trumped-up heroism, as the filmmaker approaches the lives of everyday people with modest compassion and imaginative sympathy.
    Full Review » 4 years ago
  • Roger Ebert Chicago Sun-Times (Top Critic)
    88
    The film's trajectory is rather predictable, but then so was the story told by "The Bicycle Thief." But the performances are pitch perfect...
    Full Review » 3 years ago
  • Andrea Gronvall Chicago Reader (Top Critic)
    A major star in Mexico, Bichir is quietly affecting as the father, a humble striver who faces loss at every turn.
    Full Review » 3 years ago
  • Carrie Rickey Philadelphia Inquirer (Top Critic)
    88
    A compassionate character study of a man modeling the values of heart, hard work, self-respect, and self-reliance to his spawn.
    Full Review » 3 years ago
  • Colin Covert Minneapolis Star Tribune (Top Critic)
    75
    Bichir redeems the secondhand plot and on-the-nose dialogue.
    Full Review » 3 years ago
  • Tom Long Detroit News (Top Critic)
    75
    The people here seem real, their world is shaky at best, and the political tension that permeates everything in this film feels palpable.
    Full Review » 3 years ago
  • Bill Goodykoontz Arizona Republic (Top Critic)
    80
    If we can see how things will play out long before the characters do, it's still powerful and, one gets the feeling, valuable - not just as a document of the immigration struggle but as a film.
    Full Review » 3 years ago
  • Rex Reed New York Observer (Top Critic)
    75
    The power in this movie is the way Chris Weitz trusts us to discover the facts for ourselves.
    Full Review » 4 years ago
  • Justin Chang Variety (Top Critic)
    Despite Demian Bichir's affecting lead performance and a strong feel for Los Angeles' Mexican-American communities, [the film] emerges an earnest and overly programmatic heart-tugger.
    Full Review » 4 years ago
  • Lou Lumenick New York Post (Top Critic)
    63
    Weitz keeps the schmaltz in check...
    Full Review » 3 years ago
  • Roger Moore Orlando Sentinel (Top Critic)
    50
    Once you get past the cliched Spanglish dialogue and the sentimental tone of the early acts, "A Better Life" settles down into something both involving and moving.
    Full Review » 3 years ago
  • Greg Quill Toronto Star (Top Critic)
    88
    Personalizes the illegal immigrant experience and digs much deeper into what has become a national disgrace.
    Full Review » 3 years ago
  • William Goss Film.com (Top Critic)
    Bichir delivers a note-perfect performance of determination, defeat and pride.
    Full Review » 3 years ago
  • Leonard Maltin indieWIRE (Top Critic)
    A Better Life has more to offer than good intentions: it's sincere and credible, which is more than I can say about an awful lot of movies. Yet something about it kept me at arm's length: I felt the filmmakers' presence instead of...
    Full Review » 3 years ago
AVG. RATING 3.4 WORTHY
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