How the Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer @ Festivalissimo

I don't mind when films clock in at over 2 hours (as this film does), but it has to warrant that screen time. It shouldn't drag or cause me to look at my watch. While this film was an interesting one I have to admit there was more than one peek at my watch.

Three related women of Mexican origin from different generations who live in a small town in the United States are on that eternal search for love. Over the course of a single summer in a small border town in Arizona, daughter Blanca (America Ferrera – from television's Ugly Betty), mother Lolita (Elizabeth Pena – The Incredibles, Rush Hour) and grandmother Dona Genoveva (Lucy Gallardo) experience the ecstasy and the heartbreak of love. Blanca is inbetween her junior and senior years at high school and falls for a cad while not noticing that a really nice guy has feelings for her. Lolita owns a butcher shop, is a woman who has always done the right thing and is also dating a loser (Steven Bauer – Scarface, Primal Fear). Lolita is thrown for a bit of a loop when her mother starts a relationship with a gardener.

The director of a film is ultimately responsible for the product. Georgina Garcia Riedel lets the film get away from her at times and that becomes its unraveling. There is a good film here with us being able to feel like we are really getting to know the people in this town, but that potential becomes bogged down under the sheer weight of pretension. We really feel the lack of choices that people, especially women, in small towns are faced with.

The film had a kind of forced artsy feel to it with plenty of 'different' cinematography or shots. Plenty of silence (even during sex scenes) and hokey dialogue did not help the matter. There is even a side story which is given way too much time. It did not add anything to the story except length, so it easily could have been left off. Films or stories do not have to be told in a conventional way – actually it is better if they are not, but there still has to be some sense of focus.

Two of the strengths of the film are its humour and performances by the three lead actresses. The humour hits the mark almost every time and in a very realistic way. Though all three women give good performances the grandmother (Lucy Gallardo) really stole the show for me.

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