EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|LA MISSION (director/writer: Peter Bratt; cinematographer: Hiro Narita; editor: Stan Webb; music: Mark Kilian; cast: Benjamin Bratt (Che Rivera), Jeremy Ray Valdez (Jesse), Erika Alexander (Lena), Jesse Borrego (Rene), Talisa Soto Bratt (Ana), Max Rosenak (Jordan), Alex Hernandez (Smoke); Runtime: 116; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Peter and Benjamin Bratt/Alpita Patel; Screen Media; 2009)|
a false ring."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
San Francisco born and raised writer-director Peter Bratt
("Follow Me Home") has his charismatic brother Benjamin star as the
macho Che Rivera. He's a Mexican-American, widowed, middle-aged San Francisco bus driver, who lives in the
Mission District where he raises his smart, good citizen, high school
senior son Jesse (Jeremy
Ray Valdez)--the love of his
life. Che is an ex-con, a
recovering alcoholic belonging to Alcoholics Anonymous, and a heavily tattooed character who
takes pride in his tough-guy image. He takes no shit from local toughs, and in
his spare time loves to box, tinker with his customized classic cars,
go on low-ride cruises with his homeys on Friday nights and play in
pick-up basketball games with his cronies.
Old-school Che is crushed
when he discovers through photos his son has been living a secret life
as a gay, hanging out in the Castro gay clubs and running around with a
white boyfriend (Max
Rosenak). Going violent and
bullying his son to give up being gay or be disowned, Che gets on
everyone's nerves as he makes life unbearable for the kid. Che's
homophobia upsets his new love interest Lena (Erika
Alexander). She's the
sharp-tongued single New Age black woman who is his new upstairs
neighbor as a result of gentrification, and Lena acts as the pic's voice of reason.
Predictably we follow Che's
rocky road to redemption, as the arc of the story follows him as he's
forced to re-evaluate his life beliefs and again become a caring father
to his UCLA-bound son before it's too late.
Conventionally shot on
location by cinematographer Hiro Narita, it tries to capture the
Chicano flavor of the unique neighborhood and how its changed in some
ways but is still resistant to deeper changes. What it doesn't capture
in its earnest but weak TV-like script, is how to get with the modern
times. Instead it gives us a well-meaning but limited look at the
coming out of a young gay man, something that might have made some
noise a few decades ago but not today. Everything about the film, from its
stereotype version of the community to the transformation of its bigot
macho protagonist, has a false ring.
REVIEWED ON 12/27/2010 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ