Mike is romantic and persistent, a social worker at a psychiatric clinic who falls for a new intern. Gabriela is passionate; she's also engaged; although her love for her fiance Patrick seem... Read allMike is romantic and persistent, a social worker at a psychiatric clinic who falls for a new intern. Gabriela is passionate; she's also engaged; although her love for her fiance Patrick seems more fraternal than erotic, she has an overwhelming sense of obligation to marry him. Mi... Read allMike is romantic and persistent, a social worker at a psychiatric clinic who falls for a new intern. Gabriela is passionate; she's also engaged; although her love for her fiance Patrick seems more fraternal than erotic, she has an overwhelming sense of obligation to marry him. Mike gets dubious counsel from a colleague, Douglas, who's seems to have a new relationship ... Read all
Some reviewers have suggested that the characters in the film are unrealistic. I had no problem believing them completely. I think those who think otherwise are forgetting the first rule of Love (and, for that matter, of human interactions in general): Logic means nothing.
To me, Gabriela's situation is understandable and painful: she is trapped -- by the bounds of tradition and loyalty -- in a relationship that no longer satisfies her. She knows this, all too well, and so allows herself to fall quickly into an affair with her co-worker, a good-hearted, naive young man who is drawn to her from their first meeting. The tension between the lure of passion (and, perhaps, real love) and loyalty to social mores, family expectations, and, simply, a desire on Gabriela's part not to do wrong to a man (her fiancee) whose only fault is that he no longer interests her, all combine to form the basis for a classic romance. It is a formula that has worked in film after film, and it does pretty well here.
I liked this film because I was never quite certain how things were going to turn out. This mystery held my attention. I also enjoyed the comic relief provided by Doug (Troy Winbush), Mike's philandering and cynical friend. And, though I know that using a softening lens and warm colors to create mood in the scenes where Mike and Gabriela are together is one of the oldest (and to some, campiest) tricks in a director/cinematographer's book, I feel that the technique works in this movie. I liked it. Finally, the centrality of the intergenerational conflict between mother and daughter and intercultural conflict between Mexican traditions and U.S. feminist beliefs that underlies much of the film was to me intriguing and thought-provoking.
There are, however, some caveats I would add to the above praise, that contributed to this being more of a "7" for me than a "10". While I enjoyed the film, I did not find that it stuck with me for days afterward, resurfacing in my mind during idle moments the way truly great films do. It is, to put it bluntly, no "Casablanca."
I was also disappointed to find that the DVD I had purchased, a Region 1 DVD, did not have English subtitles. This is not important for most of the film -- the dialogue is in English and quite clear -- but it is for the final scenes. These scenes take place in Mexico and are, realistically, in Spanish. Alas, I long ago forget 99% of my high school Spanish, so the subtleties of these scenes are lost to me. While I applaud the decision to switch languages, I think it was an oversight bordering on malice (i.e., let's show 'em what it feels like to have to cope with being unable to understand the language, the way Latin American immigrants are forced, daily, to cope . . .) that resulted in no subtitles being available.
The digital transfer from film to DVD is also fairly poor. The film seems to blur or skip at a few points. This is irritating, but with a little effort one can ignore it. It is an unfortunate byproduct of a low budget, I guess.
All in all, this is a good low-budget indie film and a worthwhile effort for a lot of relative newcomers. I look forward to seeing more from all of them. I recommend it to you, but encourage you to lower your expectations a tad so as not to be disappointed. If you do this, I think you'll have a good time watching it. You may even love it.
- Aug 3, 2003