Demian Bichir received his first Oscar nomination for portraying Carlos Galindo in A Better Life.
Demian Bichir portrays an illegal immigrant from Mexico who lives in American earning a living through working on trees. Bichir early on shows Carlos just to be really an average but hard working man who honestly just wants to work hard for more. Bichir realistically shows just the right degree of exhaustion on his face to indicate that Carlos has been doing this for a long while. Although not tired in the sense that suggest he does not want to do before, just in the sense that he has been working hard.
Bichir has always a certain ease in the role that always supports the idea of Carlos' history as a worker and as a father. In the first scene with his son there is just a thoroughly natural quality to their scenes together.Their first together is special really because of just how ordinary they are with one another. They establish in their first scene as a father and son that is not the warmest but neither is the coldest. Bichir really characterizes it as less than it should be merely by the fact that Carlos is basically working most of the time and is simply too tired from that to devote the effort to deal with his son.
Bichir effectively brings us into his world with him, and through his simple but moving approach he makes Carlos an easy man to empathize with. He always shows that Carlos' hopes and dreams are genuine, and truly meaningful to him. Because of this honest approach when Carlos finally has the money to buy the equipment to run the tree service himself we are able to feel the joy of the success with him. The scene where he goes to show his son what he has finally achieved is one of the most genuinely heart warming moments I have seen in a recent film. His happiness and pride in what he has gained is truly brought to life by Bichir.
Soon afterwards in the film Carlos' fortune quickly changes though when his truck is stolen suddenly. Bichir again sense he created such an honest portrait from the beginning of the film, this scene is made heartbreaking as we can really feel the loss right along with him. Bichir is terrific in these scenes because he really downplays it all to great effect. Bichir shows Carlos to really be a modest man and it would be incorrect for him to respond in some great outburst of anger, instead he very simply shows a sadness in him, but Bichir always shows that Carlos never loses his determination though.
The later scenes of the film focuses on Carlos looking for what was stolen from him with his son, as well at the same time attempting to bond with his son. In these scenes the whole time I wished the actor playing Carlos' son was better, since Bichir is excellent and these scenes could have been great if Bichir had been equaled by his co-star. Bichir is extremely moving in these scenes as he shows Carlos' quiet attempts to try to reconnect with his son. Bichir never tries to force the emotional impact of these scene but rather brings them naturally with his genuine performance.
These scenes could have frankly fallen into overt sentimentality but Bichir never forces a moment. He shows that Carlos have a completely honest love for his son, and only wishes to try to connect with his son. Bichir presents this with a clear history with his son that is exceedingly moving. We feel with Bichir his whole struggle to reach his son, as well as his loss when he forced away from him. It is a very emotionally powerful portrait that always manages to bring the strength of everyone moment to it fullest.