Mary-Louise Parker on Demian Bichir in ‘A Better Life’

SAG Preview 2011: Actors on Actors

Demian Bichir moves through Chris Weitz’s ‘A Better Life’ as though he were weighted underwater. He seems to be fighting for any levity to bring him up for air, gesturing like a man trying to move through more than simple gravity. Carlos is an illegal immigrant trying to make a better life in the United States for his teenage boy, armed with only a skill for tending to the yards of the upper-class and a sense of decency bordering on the superhuman. Demian gives Carlos a depth that is excruciating to behold, the effort required to open his eyes feels punishing, as though he knows what lies ahead, and rather than take another blow by being witness to new disappointment, he would just as soon stare at the ground. Any shred of hopefulness is truly thrilling to watch, and Demian gives us those moments as sweetly and passionately as he does the moments when he fights for the strength to get up in the morning. There are some harrowing scenes where you watch a father disintegrate; they are scenes that impress and inspire, but for me it’s the times when Weitz leaves the camera on Demian, when he appears to be doing nothing, that take my breath away. In those moments it is as though he were trying to will the world to stop, and you almost feel it could. Demian gives grace to a man who is waiting for things to go his way just a little, and because he does it so magnificently, we wait with him almost holding our breath.”

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