Directed by Alejandro Gomez Monteverde
Roadside Attractions, opens October 26
Bella, the People's Choice Award winner at last year's Toronto International Film Festival, is already getting some buzz among Catholics and pro-lifers in the blogosphere, who've pinned it as the crossover anti-abortion hit they've been waiting for. Sorry to break it to you guys, but . . . no. Director Alejandro Gomez Monteverde has so little control of tone or nuance that even the most tragic and serious moments here come off as melodramatic jokes. (During the screening I attended, nearly the entire theater burst out laughing at the violent death of a child.) His main character, Jose (Eduardo Verástegui), a Jesus-haired hottie with sad eyes and a sad secret weighing on his mind, works as a (preternaturally talented yet modest) chef in his brother's New York restaurant. When a co-worker, the streetwise Nina (Tammy Blanchard), is fired for her chronic lateness (guess what: she's actually pregnant), Jose takes her out for a day at the beach and tries to dissuade her from getting an abortion. Does she? If you can't tell by now how this movie ends, I won't spoil it, except to say that it manages to be utterly predictable without making any sense at all.