Friday, May 04, 2012

La Mission: Review

I have had my eyes on a particular movie for several months now, and I finally got it from Netflix this week.  My Benjamin Bratt kick from earlier this year waned so when I got this movie I didn't exactly sprint to the TV. I slogged through a full week before I stuffed the disc into our player and sat down for a movie that wasn't calling to me very hard.

The synopsis from IMDB: Growing up in the Mission district of San Francisco, Che Rivera (Benjamin Bratt) has always had to be tough to survive. He's a powerful man respected throughout the Mission barrio for his masculinity and his strength, as well as for his hobby building beautiful lowrider cars. A reformed inmate and recovering alcoholic, Che has worked hard to redeem his life and do right by his pride and joy: his only son, Jes, whom he has raised on his own after the death of his wife. Che's path to redemption is tested, however, when he discovers Jes is gay. To survive his neighborhood, Che has always lived with his fists. To survive as a complete man, he'll have to embrace a side of himself he's never shown.

To get a few things out of the way straight off, the setting and imagery are absolutely stunning.  I'm not exaggerating one bit.  The low-rider cars, while not anything like I would own, are eccentric and beautiful.  Che's costuming is perfect.  The city backdrop couldn't be better.  The music plays a major role in the movie and doesn't disappoint one beat.

What struck me about the movie--aside from how pretty it was and how wow Benjamin Bratt is--was the genuineness.  Too often I watch movies that are compelling or acted well, and then I walk out of the theater and go, "wow, the acting was great!" and go about my day just like always.  La Mission is different: the acting isn't as much acting as living.  I didn't think, "oh, Bratt really convinced me he was Che," I thought, "holy cow, Che really exists!"  The story, the characters, the setting, the struggle, they all come to life so vividly and honestly.  I haven't seen that before.

Even if you're not a fan of Benjamin Bratt, give this movie a shot.  It stuck with me most of the day after I watched it, and I would watch it again any day.  I give it an 8/10.

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