Friday, August 04, 2006

 

The summer’s most audience friendly film is “Quinceañera”


Its core celebration, the fifteenth birthday of Magdelena (Emily Rios), the age when, in her culture’s eyes a young girl becomes a woman, is enough to make “Quinceañera,” the melting pot melodrama from writers/directors Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland, into the most audience friendly film of the summer. But the filmmaker duo adds emotional heft to their heartfelt and often comic tale. Major change is occurring in Magdelena’s L.A. neighborhood as new residents are buying and renovating Echo Park homes. The gentrification is pushing out some members of Magdelena’s family. Any tale featuring Latino immigrants is timely but Glatzer and Westmoreland reach beyond the politics to focus on the human side of their travails.
“Quinceañera” offers a subplot for everyone: Latinos, working-class people, gays and the affluent. But instead of being a film of separate boxes, its story embraces everyone equally, and more importantly, lovingly.
Rios is a smiley firecracker as Magdelena, a cushy teen whose heart and mind is in the right place. Jesse Garcia, best known for his gritty performance on Cable TV’s “The Shield,” gives a standout performance as Magdelena’s ostracized cousin Carlos.
Their individual stories, and how they make amends with their family, celebrate Mexican culture. But its well-placed laughter and tears build a story that emphasizes what unites Americans as people who value homeland, their family and the freedom to be themselves.


“Quinceañera” made its world premiere at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, where it won both the Dramatic Grand Jury Prize and the Dramatic Audience Award Sony Pictures Classics will release it in theaters major cities across America on August 4 and the rest of the country by the end of summer.

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