Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Movie Review: Bella

Title: Bella
Genre: Drama
My Rating: ***
Official Rating: PG-13
Age Group: 14+

My Summary -
When Nina is turned away from her job at a Mexican restaurant, she has no idea how she is going to support herself. As an unwed mother living in poverty, she has little to look forward to in life, and much to regret.
Jose works in his brother's restaurant out of a sense of duty, but his heart lies in his former professional soccer career. His dream was ruined, however, by one horrible mistake that changed his life forever.
These two people are thrust together and mutually begin searching for answers to their messed-up lives, and a beautiful friendship begins to form...

The Bad:
This is a movie about an unwed mother. Though she doesn't go into a whole lot of details, Nina does explain somewhat how this came about. She considers an abortion, and through much of the movie, it seems as though she will go through with it. She even asks Jose (who comes from a very pro-life background) if he will accompany her to the clinic. We see her checking a pregnancy test.
Jose's great burden lies in the fact that he killed a little girl in a car accident. We see him suffering from the memory, and experience his flashbacks of the incident. While we do not see the body of the girl, the emotional build-up of the accident is very sad and traumatic.
Nina had an emotionally distant mother, and explains to Jose that she tried gaining her mother's attention by acting out, becoming drunk and flinging abuses at her.
Jose's mother asks him if he is the father of Nina's child.
Nina and Jose spend the night on a beach - it is completely innocent, for they are just friends, but the scene could be taken the wrong way.
Nina promises to pay for something at a convenience store, but never does.
Jose is proud and reckless at the beginning of the movie.

The Good:
This whole movie is pro-life, in a subtly beautiful way. The pro-life "agenda" is never forced, but is always beneath the surface. We see Jose struggle not to argue uncharitably with Nina as she expresses her opinion on abortion, but we also see him refuse to accompany her to the abortion clinic. Jose brings her to meet his large and very Mexican family, who are obviously open to life. He even offers to adopt her child if she decides not to have the abortion.
Jose and his brother do not agree on anything; Jose argues with his brother about his treatment of the workers in the restaurant, stating that they are people with families and lives, not servants. This estranges the brothers until the end, when Jose's brother finally recognizes Jose's wisdom, and Jose apologizes for being so uncharitable toward him.
Jose risks everything he has to help Nina, even his relationship with his family.

My Conclusion -
This is a simple story told in a simple way. There is no romance, no powerful themes running through the movie, but its very simplicity makes it great and beautiful. It is not necessarily a happy movie, or a movie that you love to watch over and over again, but once you watch it, it sort of sticks with you forever. There is hardly any dialogue - most of Jose's "talking" happens through his intense, understanding gazes. There's very little character development, the plot is shaky, and so is the cinematography. But somehow, the movie is still... good. I think "good" is the only word to describe it.

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