Beautiful ‘Bella’

Fri, 11/23/2007 - 10:28am
By: Emily Baldwin

With the slew of summer blockbusters now behind us and the unfolding list of “For your consideration” movies getting longer by the weekend, I was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon a film that is neither overly hyped (think “Bee Movie”) or a specific attempt at garnering awards (“Rendition” anyone?).

About this time every year it seems that a crop of films gets released that, while solidly cast and expertly crafted, have one focus in sight: the golden Oscar statue.

This year, we’ve seen more than a few political films come to pass – “Lions for Lambs,” “In the Valley of Elah” and the above-mentioned “Rendition” – but they haven’t seemed to offer anything all that special.

“Bella” is a film that has received much of its marketing through grassroots efforts and via word of mouth, and will likely see much more success when it is released on DVD.

“Bella” tells the story of Jose, played by Eduardo Verástegui (who has been called the Mexican Brad Pitt), a man who saw great success as a soccer player. On the verge of signing a multi-million dollar contract with a professional soccer team, a tragic moment puts an end to his hopes and dreams.

Now, years later, Jose is working at his brother Manny’s Mexican restaurant in Manhattan. His life experiences have converted him into an introverted version of himself, and we sense that he has severed ties with much from his past.

Nina (Tammy Blanchard) is a waitress at Manny’s restaurant, but when she shows up late for work one too many times, she is told to pack her things and go.

Something inside of Jose causes him to reach out to Nina, and the result is a day-long adventure the two share. What transpires is a story about how a moment in our lives can change everything.

I don’t want to say too much about the plot of the film, as part of the beauty is watching it unfold, unaware of what will come next. I will say that the film clearly comes from the heart of its production team. Writers Alejandro Gomez Monteverde – who also directs – as well as Patrick Million and Leo Severino do a remarkable job in telling the story. Without much action to move the plot along, the script takes great care with its characters – giving the audience just enough information without revealing too much too soon.

The cast is a wonderfully cohesive unit, adding humor and warmth to the screen despite the serious nature of the story. The actors take and mold their characters from well-written roles into deep and deeply effective individuals. Blanchard does a commendable job acting as a woman who is just getting by, and who is now faced with an unexpected decision to make.

It is Verástegui, however, who makes this film resonate long after the credits have rolled. It is clear, both on screen and in interviews about the film, that he put everything he had into this role. Having had remarkable success in the entertainment industry since he was 18, Verástegui stepped away from the limelight five years ago to evaluate his life. His conclusion: that he would no longer take roles that didn’t add something positive to the world. No longer would he accept parts or associate himself with productions that stood opposed to his values – a bold move in an industry that will drop actors without looking back if they aren’t willing to comply. Verástegui’s masterful portrayal of Jose is what takes this film to the next level.

“Bella” is a film about choices, about how a family’s support can make all the difference in the world and about a love that transcends barriers and hardships.

“Bella” is rated PG-13 for thematic elements and brief disturbing images, and it is not intended for a young audience. I highly recommend a trip to theaters to check this film out, although because of its limited release status it may not be around for long. If you miss it in theaters, make sure to rent the DVD.

For more info about “Bella” and to learn about the grassroots movement behind it, visit

“Bella” is currently playing at the Georgian Cinemas 14 located at 237 Newnan Crossing Bypass in Newnan, Ga.


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