Monday, 10 March 2008
Jose and Nina work in a New York restaurant. He’s the chef and she’s a waitress. Together they walk out on their tyrannical boss. Over the course of the day they become friends, and catch the train out to a beachside suburb to have a big old Mexican feast with Jose’s parents. Along the way life-changing decisions are made.
Nina (Tammy Blanchard) is pregnant, you see. She’s got no money and she’s all alone in the big city. Jose (played by Mexican pop and TV star Eduardo Verastegui) can’t quite hide his good looks behind a shaggy beard, but there’s something tragic in his eyes. What is his terrible secret?
Winner of the People’s Choice Award at the 2006 Toronto Film Festival, Bella is a sweet, good-looking film with a gorgeous tinkly musical score and a pair of likeable leads. The script is undeveloped, tending towards soapy cliché. Still, the film paints a very pretty picture of melting-pot New York, complete with the colorful ‘ethnic’ family who cook spicy food together, say grace in Spanish, then drink and dance the night away. Overly familiar, yes, but still charming.
(This review first appeared in The Big Issue, #298)