When she falls from grace, she learns that Carlos is more than the disgraceful gay troublemaker that her family makes him out to be. Quinceanera shows how easy it is to be judged by a tightly knit community, for the most arbitrary things, and how heartbreaking that rejection can be. While there is plenty of sadness to be found, there is also plenty of hope, and the film finds humour and joy in the mundane and apparently insignificant.
Through the everyday rituals, the characters develop, in beautiful scenes like Tomas chatting to people while he sells soup from his trolley and Magdalena and Carlos prodding each to reveal their sexual experiences while doing the washing up. These vignettes fill what would otherwise be dead space between emotional money shots with warmth and joy. This makes for a film that involves you and creates real sympathy for the characters, despite their mistakes and flaws.
The most divisive part of the film will probably be the conclusion, which some may feel is slightly contrived, although certainly not impossible. If you are looking for indie film cred, then you will probably think it’s weak, but to others it will be a positive note to end a rich and textured story.
The writing / directing team of Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland live in Echo Park and filmed Quinceanera in the houses of friends and neighbours. Westmoreland apparently also based the character of Tomas on his own great uncle, and so it’s no surprise that this film is so easy to relate to and so true to life.
Quinceanera manages the seemingly impossible by combining weighty drama with feel-good cinema. Well paced and fantastically acted, it will both entertain and move you. Packing a lot into a fairly short running time, it is highly recommended viewing for everyone, especially those tired of trite family dramas starring Dianne Keaton or Adam Sandler.
- Ivan Sadler
This beautiful slice of life movie manages the seemingly impossible - combining weighty drama with feel-good cinema.
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