Release Date: August 4th, 2006 by Sony Pictures Classics.
The Cast: Emily Rios, Jesse Garcia, Chalo Gonzalez, J.R. Cruz, Araceli Guzmán-Rico, Jesus Castaños-Chima, David W. Ross.
Directed by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland.
BASIC PREMISE: 14 year-old Magdalena (Rios) comes of age when she moves in with her great-great uncle, Thomas (Gonzales), after getting kicked out of her house for being pregnant.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Magdalena goes through difficult obstacles before her 15th birthday which holds a traditional ceremony, a.k.a. a “quinceañera”. She and her older boyfriend, Herman (Cruz), haven’t had intercourse, yet she still ends up pregnant, much to her surprise and the surprise of the doctor, who calls it a miracle. This small miracle doesn’t exactly have good consequences. When her uptight father (Castaños-Chima) discovers that she’s pregnant, he immediately kicks her out of the house. Soon enough, she goes to live with her great-great uncle and cousin, Carlos (Garcia) who lives there as well. Carlos goes through a tough time with his homosexuality which comes out when he gets involved with a gay couple who live next door. Life for Magdalena doesn’t get any easier during her stay there. As her pregnancy progresses, she tries to convince Herman to make the most out of his responsibilities of fatherhood. However, the problem is that Herman’s mother does not approve of their relationship and denies that her son impregnated her. Thanks to the well-written script by co-writers Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland, some scenes feel just as realistic as those in Raising Victor Vargas, although this film doesn’t have the humor found in that film nor does it really require any humor. Quinceañera works as a drama because it has complex characters and a clear conflict. Fortunately, Emily Rios gives a very strong performance in her film debut. She helps to make Magdalena into a lively and sympathetic character that never seems one-dimensional and that you can easily care about. Co-directors Glatzer and Westmoreland also wisely let this gentle, character-driven story flow organically in non-shaky digital cinematography which keeps you entertained from start to finish without a single scene that drags.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: Magdalena is in a very fragile phase of development when everything that happens to her will affect the rest of her life in some way. Her pregnancy represents an obstacle she must gather the strength to overcome both mentally and physically. Basically, what she needs in her life is love, compassion, acceptance and, above-all, guidance which she doesn’t get from her parents. She finds those important qualities in her great-great uncle Tomas and her cousin Carlos. Many of their scenes together feel very moving and uplifting as well.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: None.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 0
IN A NUTSHELL: A gentle and moving film with a break-through performance by Emily Rios.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)
The "Q" Menu