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Bella
Our Rating
3½ Stars - Good
Average Rating
 
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Mpaa Rating
PG-13 (for thematic elements and brief disturbing images)
Genre
Directed By
Alejandro Monteverde
Run Time
1 hour 31 minutes
Cast
Eduardo Verástegui, Tammy Blanchard, Manny Perez, Ali Landry
Theatre Release
April 30, 2008 by Metanoia Films

The energy in the kitchen of an elegant Mexican restaurant in Manhattan is cranking up steadily, as the staff braces for the noon rush. One waitress, Nina, is running late, which is becoming a habit. She dashes in at the last minute, but Manny, the owner, tells her this is one time too many, and fires her on the spot.

As Nina storms out, the head chef, Manny's brother José (a mysteriously tragic guy, peeking out through a forest of beard and hair), follows her outside to make sure she's OK. When he learns that she is pregnant, he walks away from the restaurant and spends the day at her side, compelled for unknown reasons to try to help her. Over the course of the day, their conversations, encounters, and decisions will send changes rippling through many lives, over many years.

I can't say much more about the plot without giving away spoilers, but rest assured that Bella is well worth seeing for yourself. It's a quiet film, carried along mostly on the conversation between José and Nina, who makes it clear early on that she does not intend to have the baby. Her situation is one all too sadly common, and the reasons that she gives for being unable to raise a child, or even to bear one to place for adoption, are all too familiar. José does not try to argue with her—but he listens. And gradually Nina discloses more and more of her life, so we can see what steps brought her to that day. José has some history of his own to reveal, as well.

It's not exactly an action movie, but it's not all talk either. As Nina and José make their way through New York, they encounter plenty that is interesting to watch. They look eccentric themselves, he in his white chef's jacket, and her in the gaudy flowered ...

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