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Profile: Chris Weitz, director of A Better Life

Film-maker known for American Pie, About a Boy and The Golden Compass

Profile: Chris Weitz, director of A Better Life

A Better Life

Name Chris Weitz

Born 30 November 1969, New York City

Background Weitz began his career co-directing the hit teen comedy American Pie (1999) with his brother Paul. After another successful collaboration, 2002’s About A Boy, Weitz’s first solo attempt, The Golden Compass, was a disappointment, ending up as a heavily sanitised take on the challenging book by Philip Pullman (Weitz now refers to it as ‘the biggest failure of my career’).

What’s he up to now? After a happier experience making New Moon, the second in the blockbusting Twilight series, Weitz has directed A Better Life, a much smaller story about a struggling Mexican immigrant and his son in contemporary LA.

On the style of the film ‘What I wanted to do was make a film that wasn’t all about indie cred, you know? "Oh, we shot it in ten days with our camera phones and aren’t we great?" I really wanted to be able to employ people like Javier Aguirresarobe (cinematographer) and Alexandre Desplat (composer) to give the story polish, and not to run on any received notions of how movies about poor people are supposed to be made.’

On lead actor Demiàn BichirDemiàn is an extraordinarily accomplished actor but he’s not known to American eyeballs; I think he deserves an Oscar nomination [for this role]. Every year there is someone who is discovered in America – America suddenly realises that people in other countries make movies and that they’re actually good actors. I would like for this to be Demiàn’s year.’

On co-directing with brother Paul ‘I would love to do it again, it would take a lot of the load off my shoulders! It’s really just that we got out of sync; I was too tired after About A Boy to work on the next movie, and neither of us wanted to prevent the other from doing what we wanted to do. But we talk about it now, now that we’ve got some time.’

Interesting fact Weitz was a producer of Tom Ford’s Oscar-nominated film A Single Man.

A Better Life is on selected release from Fri 29 Jul. See review.

A Better Life Trailer

A Better Life

  • 3 stars
  • 2011
  • US
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Chris Weitz
  • Cast: Demian Bichir, José Julián

A Better Life is the simple tale of illegal Mexican immigrant Carlos' (Bichir) attempt to make a better life for his son Luis (Julián) in Los Angeles. When Carlos' pick up van and tools are stolen the pair know they must find them to survive. Morally commendable and mildly successful.

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