Tuesday, May 27, 2008
This kind of film comes along so rarely. Bella does not pull punches, it is not soft, it does not pander and yet it is positive and warm and life affirming. It reminds us that no matter what happens, no matter what path we think we are on, things can always change. A moment can change the path of your life and in so doing, can change the world around you.
The director aptly described it with the simple truism, "If you want to see God laugh, tell him your plans."
Life is like that. But everything comes back around. The world balances itself. And we can take part in that and we can make concious choices about the type of people we choose to be and how we wish to participate in the human race.
A lot of religious groups are trying to co-opt the film to reinforce one of their more popular messages but I don't see it that way. Two of the filmmakers have spoken openly about being Catholic, so I'm not saying they don't share opinions with these groups, but I think this film goes far beyond social issues. It's simply a story about people. How we effect each other and how life can surprise you.
It also does a beautiful job of refusing to recycle the well worn Latino stereotypes too often seen in film; presenting instead warm families, interesting people and fully rounded characters - the way it should be.
Oh, and one of the last scenes - between the two brothers - MUST be an intentional homage to Big Night. It is simply too dead-on not to be intentional. That scene from Big Night it is one of my favorite scenes ever committed to film and the same dynamic plays beautifully and meaningfully for the gifted filmmakers of Bella.
I don't want to tell you anything about this film and I think you should do yourself a favor and not read anything about it. A lot of the film is just people talking. There are sometimes subtitles. The acting is gorgeous and I thought the cinematography was lovely. It may be too stream of conciousness for some or too warm fuzzy for others... but obviously I really liked it.
I want to hang this film on my wall and watch it like a living work of art.