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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 15.56%
Average: 20%
Pretty Bad: 15.56%
Total Crap: 2.22%

2 reviews, 33 user ratings

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by brianorndorf

"So much heart, so little everything else"
3 stars

“Bella” reaches out to the audience for compassion, displaying drama of an unwieldy mournful pitch, calculated to tug down hard on heartstrings and beat tears out of the viewer. It’s an indie production marinated in manipulation, but there’s just enough authentic anguish emanating from the actors to make it worth a sit.

Jose (Eduardo Verastegui) is a former soccer star who has fallen into a dark pit of guilt after tragedy robbed him of a bright future. Now a chef for his tightly-wound brother, Jose befriends Nina (Tammy Blanchard, “Life with Judy Garland”), a waitress recently fired from the restaurant, now forced to deal with her new pregnancy with no financial support. Taking the day off to help her cope, Jose and Nina explore New York City together, eventually heading into the suburbs to meet Jose’s family. During their time together, the friends begin to open up about their fears, with Jose comforting Nina, trying to heal his old wounds by reassuring Nina that her future isn’t as bleak as she imagines.

The direction of “Bella,” by Alejandro Gomez Monteverde, is a series of close-ups, setting a mood of intimacy, often where it shouldn’t exist. Trying to bond the audience with the characters, Monteverde all too often presses the drama harshly to the screen, trying to sneak around an organic growth of character while looking to cover his low budget. I kept hoping “Bella” would back off a little and let the whole enterprise breathe, for underneath the straining camerawork is an agreeable picture about bonding and hope.

If the unlikely union between Jose and Nina is sold appropriately at all, it’s not due to the director’s efforts. Blanchard and Verastegui are the stars of the show here, and their interplay of trust and light flirtation is what keeps “Bella” out of the death grip of convention. The actors feel every emotion required, leading to terrific scenes where the duo stew in their own remorse. Blanchard seems especially skilled at conveying the weight of the world, embodying a tough New Yorker without chasing her tail, developing Nina as a woman stuck between the life she wants for herself and the claustrophobic one she’s stumbled into. These are two wonderful performances.

While “Bella” oddly contorts itself to follow a plot of complete inconsequence, it’s more alive as a character drama, just observing Jose and Nina as they process their bundle of troubles. “Bella” is a modest effort, and expectations should be lowered to best appreciate the heartache.

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originally posted: 10/26/07 20:16:16
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Toronto Film Festival For more in the 2006 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2007 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2007 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

4/13/16 Katrina Weiss Delivered a message without being too heavy-handed. 5 stars
1/27/10 jmm Review was a little harsh but I some what agree. Story was beautiful though. 4 stars
1/08/09 Rachel i really liked this. =] 4 stars
1/26/08 Ry good film 4 stars
12/13/07 William Goss About as maudlin a melodrama can get without actually disturbing any heartstrings. 3 stars
11/15/07 Elizabeth Enjoyed the performances and it is not quite the cliche you might expect. 4 stars
11/05/07 Kristin Reale I love the pro-life theme, but I must admit that the story line had some holes. 4 stars
11/04/07 Laura V. Beautifully produced, acted & directed. Substantial and powerful storyline 5 stars
11/03/07 mb long, heavy-handed message--right-wingnuts are out in force w/ pos reviews: don't believe 1 stars
11/01/07 harry Wonderful film. I loved it 5 stars
10/27/07 Alano I liked it. I got caught up in it early and never lost interest. 4 stars
10/27/07 Smokindok On the surface, ordinary, but actually a wonderfully detailed Christ allegory. 5 stars
10/27/07 Ashley Ferguson Amazing!! 5 stars
9/14/07 Shirley Some powerful emotional scenes, but writing, narrative flow and character are weak. 3 stars
6/29/07 David it is the best movie i have ever seen.. a standing ovation at our screening 5 stars
5/30/07 Melissa Wow! The Film touches your heart and leaves a lasting impression upon its constant beating 5 stars
10/03/06 Tanya I give it a standing ovation as did the rest of the audience I sreened it w in Toronto. 4 stars
9/29/06 AdamAnt Sentimental and formulaic as a telenovela. Never deserved to win. 2 stars
9/20/06 AW Amazing. . .the kind of film that stays with you 5 stars
9/20/06 Jackie Lemaire very good 5 stars
9/18/06 denny just average, shocked whe it won, so many others better 3 stars
9/17/06 Eduardo García Giménez Una de las mejores películas que vi en los últimos años 5 stars
9/17/06 RS Fantastic film making. Won Toronto, Oscars next! 5 stars
9/17/06 ryan It is one of those rare movies that you will never forget and tell people they have to see 5 stars
9/16/06 Daniel Morello Una lección de Vida y Esperanza 5 stars
9/15/06 elaine piaff OSCAR 2007! 5 stars
9/15/06 tamara excelente 5 stars
9/14/06 lisa wilson SUCH a GREAT movie....great acting and amazing directing 5 stars
9/12/06 John Jakubczyk wonderful film, touching, deep 5 stars
9/12/06 Jason Jones Beutiful Story, the acting is stunning, the birth of a great director 5 stars
9/11/06 JSB Life affirming! The filmaker really makes you think about certain choices we all make. 5 stars
9/09/06 Tracey Eyster BEST film I've seen in YEARS!!! 5 stars
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  26-Oct-2007 (PG-13)
  DVD: 06-May-2008



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