I really wanted to see this when it hit theaters last year, but as so often happens, I didn't get around to it. Having now got hold of it on dvd I am regretting not seeing it on the big screen even more, because this is quite simply a beautiful movie - on so many levels.
Winner of multiple awards, including those at the Toronto and Heartland Film Festivals, the movie is directed by Mexican Alejandro Monteverdi, and stars Eduardo Verastegui (who is also one of the producers) and Tammy Blanchard, who is maybe better known for her past TV work.
The story follows Jose (Verastegui) a soccer player about to sign a lucrative contract, but who is prevented from doing so by a tragic accident that causes him to leave soccer and work in New York as a chef at his brother's restaurant. Here he meets and befriends waitress Nina (Blanchard) who has just been fired through circumstances not entirely beyond her control.
The bulk of the movie takes place on just one day, a day in which Nina discovers that maybe there is hope after all, and that there is more to the mysterious bearded chef than at first meets the eye, and that maybe he has something to hide too.
Monteverdi has said that he really wanted to dispel the myth that Hispanics are either dishonest cheaters or dangerous lotharios, and he succeeds admirably by portraying a normal Mexican family, with it's warmth, loyalty and humor.
Through selective use of flashbacks and sections where the dialogue is purposely hidden, the viewer is made to do some of the work in figuring out what is going on, which I really like.
There are pretty much guarenteed to be tears at point in the movie, particularly at the end, but you never get the impression that the film-makers are out to deliberately cause emotion. It's simply a story which they passionately believe in, being well-told.
In an age where questionable moral standards are the norm, Bella is a beautifully shot breath of fresh air, with a soundtrack to die for (if it ever gets released), and is the kind of movie that Christians should definitely encourage, as it is badly needed for a whole host of reasons.
If you haven't seen it you are missing out big time, so please check it out, and lewt me know what you think!