Quinceanera

Young ladies of Latin heritage on their 15th birthdays have a celebration called Quinceanera. As Magdalena's (Emily Rios – first film) 15th birthday nears it places some stress on her working-class family. Though not a materialistic girl, Magdalena wants a Hummer limousine like her friend's. Her father is a pastor and flat out refuses to spend his money on this extravagance.

Magdalena's life becomes even more complicated when she finds out that she is pregnant. How she became pregnant is somewhat of a mystery for her as, although she does have a boyfriend named Herman (J.R. Cruz – first film), she is still a virgin. Her father does not believe her and kicks her out of the house. Magdalena goes to live with her older Uncle Tomas (Chalo Gonzalez – The Wild Bunch) and the family black sheep, her gay cousin Carlos (Jesse Garcia – appeared in episodes of The Closer and The Shield). After some rough patches this new family begins to get along until something happens that tests the two young ones and they have to grow up quickly.

As the darling of last year's Sundance Film Festival (it won both the Grand Jury and the Audience Awards) this film got surprisingly very little publicity in comparison to a film like "Little Miss Sunshine" and for me it was every bit as good a film. Directors Richard Glatzer (Grief, The Fluffer) and Wash Westmoreland (The Fluffer) have made an excellent film about the working class area of Los Angeles (Echo Park) that they themselves live in and have done with plenty of insight and sensitivity. They take on serious subjects such as racism, poverty, homosexuality, and the gentrification of a working class area without becoming preachy or too heavy. It was also refreshing to see a film about working-class Mexicans living in the United States that did not stereotype them as gangsters or degenerates. It never takes the easy way out by just handing us characters that are stereotypes. They were poor people who were just trying to make their way in the world.

The young actors in the film come off like experienced pros even though for the most part it is their first films. Jesse Garcia, the young man who plays Carlos, is especially excellent. A treat also was Chalo Gonzalez; he has that je ne sais quoi about him that makes him glow onscreen. The time it takes to watch this film surely is one of the better entertainment investments you will make this year.

Special Features:
-On the Red Carpet with Quinceanera
-The Making of Quinceanera
-Mis Quince Anos
-Previews of Curse of the Golden Flower, Volver, The Quiet, The Italian, El Crimen Del Padre Amaro, Dreamland, Sueno, Celestine Prophecy, House of Sand, Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles, and Driving Lessons

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