‘Under the Same Moon’: Family Assessment

‘Under the Same Moon’: Family Assessment


How a family behaves and manages its daily affairs is an important aspect as it is outlined in the Beavers model. Different families have different ways of nurturing and performing their daily activities. Some families are more organized than others and this gives an explanation to the different ways by which families perform differently. Different families have different levels of competencies which are assessed on six competencies areas that include family structure, mythology, autonomy, goal-directed negotiations, and family effect (Houston, 2006).  ‘Under the Same Moon’ is one of the most sensitive and thrilling film where essential family concepts are really evident. It is a heart wrenching film with essential themes thus making it a good choice for family assessment.  The Patricia Riggen’s film is a symbol of hospitality and self sacrifice for the well being of others. This paper will have an in depth analysis of the film and identify the various family concepts as outlined in the Beavers Model.

Movie Setting and Story

The film revolves about a common and prevalent issue to many families in the United States. Border migration has become a common issue in the United States. In the film, Patricia Riggen gives a detailed story of a family that has been torn apart as a result of illegal migration across the US-Mexico border. It is a story about a mother and son who have not seen each other for a period of four years.  Rosario, the mother, decides to cross the border from Mexico to the US in search of green pastures to enable her sustain her nine-year old son Carlitos. As she left Mexico for the United States, the mother leaves the young boy under the custody of his grandmother (Deveny, 2012).  For a long time, the two tried as much as possible to keep in touch with each other. They often talked using pay phone where she would make weekly calls to ensure that they maintain the family ties. Unfortunately after sometime, Carlitos’s grandmother dies leaving the young boy with no one to take care of him (Schwab, Gray-Ice, & Prentice, 2000).  After the death of his grandmother, the young Carlitos decides to pack up his book bag, gather his savings and embark on a journey to cross the US-Mexico border in search of his mother Rosario.

The story begins with sounds of water thrashing at night as people are swimming. It is a quiet night filled with people swimming f or their lives but unfortunately finding the agents of the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services on the other side. A good number of the illegal immigrants are ambushed and forced back to their country. Nevertheless, Rosario is amongst the lucky few who manage to cross the border in search of employment. In the next shooting, we see Rosario in Los Angeles in the United States (Russell, 2009). The film also shows the mother and son have a conversation every Sunday that takes sometimes and ensures that the family remains in touch. From their discussions, we understand that the young boy feels uncomfortable due to the distance separating him with the mother and at times he makes his will known by saying that he was also ready to cross the border. Carlitos says, “I’m ready to go to Los Angeles, mami.” Rosario answers, “Well, it’s not that easy to get papers Carlitos, but real soon, ok?” When she asks if he needs anything, Carlitos answers, “I need you.’’

To make the matters worse, carlito’s grandmother, Benita Reyes, gets ill and Rosario sense that her mother is not likely to recover. She starts planning how to get his son legally to the United States despite knowing that it is not an easy task.  At this juncture, the neighbors, that included Carlito’s brother and his absentee father, begin to convince Carlitos to leave their grandmothers home and start living with them (Houston, 2006). Carlitos however declines the offer and decides to continue staying with the grandmother. The uncle made the matters worse by telling the young man that his mother would never return to Mexico.

After the grandmother dies, the young man opts not to consult the neighbors or distant relatives but set off in hope of a reunion with his mother in Los Angeles. With the help of Marta and David, the young boy is on route to the U.S hoping to get there by Sunday before the mother makes the routine call. The journey to the United States is full of nasty ordeals where he losses all his money and also falls in the trap of wrong people who wants to sell him to some people presumably for sexual exploitation. Luckily, the young man falls in the hands of a hospitable woman, Reyna, who operated a local safe house for illegal workers (Schwab, Gray-Ice, & Prentice, 2000).  The woman helps the young boy travel together with undocumented workers after saving him from the nasty crowd.

Despite Reyna’s efforts to assist the young man, things did not go his way. Working in tomato fields, Carlitos in a group of other workers are raided by USCIS agents.  However, Carlitos manages to escape as the other workers are left in the hands of the immigration agents. After long time of tussles and hassles, Carlitos get assurance from Enrique that he will assist him in his quest to reunite with the mother (Deveny, 2012). Despite the assurance, Carlito is aware that getting the exact area of residence of his mother is not an easy task. There is a sense of self sacrifice when Enrique disrupts the police as they want to confirm Carlitos’ immigration status. Finally, Carlito gets unite with his mother after a lot of perseverance, help from strangers and good luck. The reunion is paramount having been separated for four years and they can now be able to support each other.

Assessment of Movie Family

The film ‘’Under the same moon’’ is a thrilling film that gives us an opportunity to have family assessment. Rosario and her son Carlitos seem to be the main characters in the film and we have an opportunity to learn more in regard to this family.  From the film, we can see a close relationship between the mother and her son.  A good family environment is evident from the proceedings from the film (Yingling, Miller, McDonald, & Galewaler, 2013). For instance, when Rosario decides to leave Mexico for the United States in search of green pastures, the grandmother of the son agrees to take custody of the young boy. It is important to note that the grandmother agreeing to take care of her grandchild is an indication that the family relates well with the environment. On the same note, Marta and David are also an indication that the family environment was at its best. These two people offered to help Carlitos reunite with her mother despite not being part of this family.

The film’’ Under the same moon’’ also brings out communication as another important family aspect. The way family communicates plays a significant role in the levels of success achieved while   addressing family issues. From the film, it is evident that Rosario would make sure that she spares some time every Sunday to make a call to his son. This constant communication kept the family ties strong. Through communication, the Rosario is able to get crucial information such as the ailing health condition of the mother. Also, through communication, Carlitos is able to make his thoughts clear to his mother that he also hopes to get reunion with her in Los Angeles (Russell, 2009). Although communication has brought about such positives things evident in the film, it is also imperative to note that there are some instances in the film that expresses the dangers of non- communication. For instance, we learn existence of Carlitos‘s father and brother when the grandmother gets sick. It is vital to note that the young boy considers them as strangers as he has never had a chance to communicate with them before.

Comparison to Beavers system model

The family concepts identified in the movie have great comparison with the Beavers System Model. For instance, the issue of family structure is evident in the film. From the film, it is clear that Ms Rosario’s family is disjointed. Although we understand that the separation between Carlitos and Rosario is as a result of lack of employment in Mexico, it is difficult to understand why the other family members including Carlitos’s brother and the father are not together as a family unit (Soto, 2008). The fact that Rosario decides to leave her young son with the grandmother rather than the father or his other son is an indication of disintegration in the family. It is evident that there is minimum interaction between the couple and there is a sense of divisions in the family. Rosario and his son Carlitos are in one side while the other side is the father and the elder son in the family.


To sum it up, the film ’’ Under the same moon’’ is a film that has high level of sensitivity and storytelling. The film is full of mercy, patience, love and self-sacrifice. Essential family issues are brought out in the film that making it an important film for family assessment. For instance, the good care that Cariltos gets from his grandmother after his mother leaves Mexico for the US testimony of good family values (Yingling, Miller, McDonald, & Galewaler, 2013). Even as an illegal migrant, Rosario made efforts to ensure that she is in contact with her son by making weekly telephone calls. Other important issues such as decision making and family structures are also notable in the movie. The movie has also highlighted the issues arising from illegal migration and suffering of children as their parents gets separated or seeks employment in foreign land.



Deveny, T. (2012). Migration in contemporary Hispanic cinema. Lanham: Scarecrow Press.

Houston, R. (2006). Individuals’ hope and family functions. Ann Arbor, Mich.: ProQuest.

Russell, W. (2009). Teaching social issues with film. Charlotte, NC: IAP.

Soto, L. (2008). Migration as a matter of time.

Schwab, J., Gray-Ice, H., & Prentice, F. (2000). Family functioning. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.

Yingling, L., Miller, W., McDonald, A., & Galewaler, S. (2013). GARF Assessment Sourcebook. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.


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