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Laramie Movie Scope:

Coming of age in the barrio story

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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November 27, 2006 -- “Quinceañera” is a pleasant little film about a young girl in trouble with her family. She has to take on adult responsibilities a lot earlier than she expected to. The film is filled with heart and good humor, but there is a bit of edge to it as well as some characters have to deal with betrayal and harsh new realities. The title refers to a traditional coming-of-age celebration for Hispanic girls when they turn 15 years old. It is sort of like a Bar Mitzvah. The film's dialogue is a mix of Spanish and English, with characters slipping easily back and forth from one to the other. It is set in the Echo Park community of Los Angeles.

Magdalena (Emily Rios) is approaching her 15th birthday and she wants a fancy Quinceañera celebration like her cousin Maria (Araceli Guzman-Rico) recently had, including a stretch Hummer limo ride. Magdalena's father (Jesus Castaños-Chima) disapproves of such extravagance, and thinks Magdalena should be concentrating on the spiritual aspects of the celebration instead. Things get much worse when Magdalena finds out she is pregnant. Her father goes ballistic and she decides to move out of the house. She moves in with her saintly old great-uncle, Tomas (Chalo Gonzalez) and her black sheep cousin, Carlos (Jesse Garcia) who is gay. Tomas has turned his house into a thing of beauty. In the yard, he has created beautiful decorations from the detrius of society.

Carlos is attracted to one of the two gay men who move in next door (played by David W. Ross and Jason L. Wood). Magdalena talks with her boyfriend, Herman (J.R. Cruz) and tries to figure out how she got pregnant in the first place since the circumstances were highly unusual. Magdalena and Carlos both have a hard time fitting into society. Magdalena is betrayed by Herman and Carlos' nextdoor friends turn against him as well. Tomas finds himself lost as well when his fortunes take a turn for the worse. Somehow, the three find strength from each other and grow close. In the end, they find that the only things they can depend on are themselves, each other, and family.

The film does manage a resolution, of sorts, for the various crises that arise during the film, although some seem a bit forced and others are far from satisfying. The acting is quite good, especially by Rios and Garcia. There will be some, no doubt, who will complain that this film does not reflect Hispanic values very well. That might be true, but it is a pretty enjoyable little film, nonetheless. It has strong characters and a coherent plot. It's gentle good humor and its heart go a long way toward making it a very pleasant moviegoing experience. This film rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics, theater tickets and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2006 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)