Monday, May 26, 2008


Quinceañera (Glatzer & Westmoreland, 2005). By the directors' own admission, this is a reinvention of Tony Richardson's Taste of Honey: 6o's Manchester has been replaced by present-day Echo Park but though it does not lack realism, it has to be said that the 2005 story is a lot more optimistic and upbeat.

The film tells the story of Magdalena (Emily Rios) as she approaches her quinceañera, a coming of age ceremony. It is, like many such celebrations, a sources of both pride and pressure for those responsible as there are standards to be maintained and lived up to. The movie begins with the ceremony of Magdalena's cousin, Eileen (Alicia Sixtos) whose more prosperous parents are able to give her the ideal quinceañera. Magdalena's father, (Jesus Castanos-Chima), who runs a storefront church has neither the money nor the inclination to pay for what he sees as a decadent and immoral celebration. He is a deeply religious man who expects his family to live up to his exacting standards. Her mother tries to do her best to make up for her husband's unbending piousness but also to understand the desires of her daughter.

Thus, this is a community in transition in many ways; the prosperous cousins also have a rebellious child, Carlos (Jesse Garcia): a gang-banger of a son who disrupts his sister's ceremony and leaves home to live with his grandfather Tomas, (Chalo Gonzàlez). After she finds herself unexpectedly pregnant, Magdalena finds herself living there too Added to this, Tomas is living in a house that has been bought up by a pair of yuppies, part of the wave of Anglos who are gentrifying this area of Los Angeles with all the consequences there are for the existing population. The movie follows the fate of the three housemates as a microcosm of what is happening to the Latino population.

In the end, the movie has something of a happy ending and it is perhaps the uplifting nature of the ending that betrays the film's strengths in portraying the reality of the generational, cultural and moral clashes that drive the story.

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