Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Movie Review: Bella

I really, really wanted to really like this movie. It came out last year amidst controversy and critique for being so "pro-life".  My sister saw it in the theater and said it was good. So I was hopeful. And it was...okay.

The story line follows a waitress and a head chef of the same restaurant. The restaurant is run by the brother - Manny - of the chef. He has a rule that if a worker is late three times they will be canned. Nina, the waitress, is late for the third time, because she was taking a pregnancy test. She, a single gal, finds herself pregnant and alone and questioning. 

Jose, the head chef, apparently has a soft spot for Nina because when Manny blasts Nina for arriving late, Jose leaves the restaurant to follow Nina and find out what happened. And I think that's the point of the movie - following, pursuing people to find out their story. 

There were a couple scenes, most notably the opening, where strangers misunderstood Jose's circumstances and take him for a pervert or a beggar. Neither are true but on face value, with just a quick glance and quicker judgement, they seem to be true. Jose points out to Manny, after he fires Nina, that he has no idea why Nina was late. He never stopped to ask what would cause her tardiness when in the past four years she's never been late. Jose slams his brother for not taking time to get to know his employees.

That, I saw, was the point of the film. We see people everywhere and we immediately draw our conclusions about them, most rashly. We don't stop to spend time, sit down and ask why, who are you, where are you going, or what's on your heart. We cast judgement and then we act according to that prejudice and most often we are way off the mark. Everybody has a story. Everybody has heartaches and dreams. We can not read people just by looking at their clothes, or their expressions and determine their value. Every one has value and as human beings we need to take the time to discover that. 

That's the message of Bella. I love that but unfortunately the movie took a long way around to express that. Maybe I'm too familiar with action/adventure stories that demand quicker revelation of the theme. There were great shots in the restaurant with cooking and eating of what looked like great Mexican food and a great sequence at Jose's home with his mother, father and brother. I would recommend this film regardless of the slowness. It was uplifting -in a thoughtful, sorrowful and melancholy sort of way.

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