The film A Better Life is based on the relations between the father and the son, who are the illegal migrants from Mexico. Initially, the son despises that his father works on wealthy Americans because trimming their lawns is completely unacceptable for him. He even looks down on his own father, while thinking about the way of street gangs, what his father trying to save him from as much as possible. Son talks very rudely to his father, thereby showing his attitude to the life ancestor, spends a lot of time on the street with a friend who has already made his choice, and is methodically following him. His girlfriend is the sister of one of the gang members. He is inclined to such a “bad migrant's” life way, but he has constantly doubts whether he thinks right and whether or not it is the only way to get out of the routine and hopeless life. So in the end of the film, when the father is facing serious challenges, he wants to help him, and even despite the fact that the son does not like the methods of solving the problem, he still refuses to go on the gangs' road and gets on his own way, the way of a decent citizen, on the path of his father. It is no wonder they say that the blood is thicker than water.
In the movie, the two protagonists go through various difficulties, and either has his own ones. The father encounters a lot of tests, such as a test for character, will and courage as well as confidence and honour tests. However, the most important hardship for him is the relationship with his son. Stubborn son does not want to perceive him as the authority, constantly leaving caustic comments and demonstrating disrespect. At the same time, he realized that his son is all that he has in this life and he is worth struggling for. In an emergency, when he did not know exactly what he should do, he had to teach his son a lesson to make right decisions, and not to lose contact with him during the whole process. He reached his goal by pushing the child in the right direction. For him, it was important not only to solve his problems, but also put the son on the right path.
For the son, the major challenge was to win a victory over himself and to make the right choice. Being at puberty, the teenager tossed between the good and the evil, the decency and the shame, encountering a lot of temptations by friends from the street. On the other side was his father with the unenviable job and doubtful prospects for the future, which he did not want to follow, as it were for him like losing opportunities and a cross on his life. Generally, he had the teachers and “role models” on both sides, and they were trying to persuade him to their choice. Rushing between the two lights, his father and his friends, he momentarily became the object and realized that he would be able to return the status of the subject himself in the life only with his own hands.
Mexican culture is portrayed in the film indirectly. Nevertheless, it is also affected. In the midst of the events of the tape, the protagonists come to the Mexican festival, where all participants are dressed in national costumes, playing Mexican music and having fun with all sorts of entertainment. A lot of people are dressed in classic hats sombrero as well as wear the sandals guarachi oh their feet with a flat sole, which are widespread among the Mexican population. Many were also dressed in capes and various Mexican raincoats, such as ponchos and reboso. Father is a true devotee of old traditions of his people and supported their culture as well as everything that happened at the festival. The culture is portrayed, I would say, neutrally, but with a slight superiority in the plus.
The father feels like a real patriot of the country and supports the Mexican heritage. He is glad that many Mexicans are going to various festivals, where they can be themselves and delight in his eyes along with their native country, the national food and everything else. When such an action takes place, it removes from the protagonist's thoughts about hellish working conditions of the people. He understands that a return to home would be like a huge step back from their dreams and hopes, which he is trying to put into action for himself and his son in the United States. He cannot look without pain at the his and his people's work, so he tolerated all the migrants from his country, even when his truck, the only valuable thing he had, was stolen. He forbade his son to use force against the person who committed this act. He understands that all have no choice, trying to feed their family in every possible way. It is incredibly frustrating for him how hardly the Mexican migrants work, and what abominable conditions they have to live under. At the same time, he has a negative attitude to the illegal “work” gangs that sell drugs or practise the racket that is a sense what he is trying to foster in his son. In his opinion, only an honest life and the right, undistorted morality are the only ways for the people to become a respected, prosperous and self-sufficient person in the United States.
At the same time, his son is very skeptical about the Mexican culture, he behave as if he denied his roots, not supporting the Mexican decoration festival and despising the legal work of the honest Mexican workaholics. He says that they are transformed into slaves, as they work for a pittance, live in huts, but they are honest citizens of the country, which oppresses them. He does not see the good in the human. It seems him like any teenager that the whole world is against him. These illusions it what the father tries to eradicate, by proving the contrary. In the end of the movie, the son realizes the rightness of his father's instructions and tries to find himself in an honest labour.
The songs in the movie are very diverse, but generally they very well represent the spirit of friendly Mexicans and their culture, which tries to integrate into American life. They use fun, joie de vivre rhythms, so despite their hard life, they do not lose heart. Through the form of so-called non-verbal communication, this attitude is transmitted to all the spectators, all the skeptics and all Mexican migrants who chose so to say, not a right way.