Bella (2007)

Rated: PG-13 for thematic elements and brief disturbing images.
Length: 91 minutes
Grade: ABAA=A
Budget: $3.3 million
Box Office: $8 million US, $1 million Intl

Written and Directed by: Alejandro Gomez Monteverde, who’s never directed anything you’ve heard of before.
Starring: Eduardo Verastegui, Tammy Blanchard, Manny Perez, Ali Landry, Angelica Aragon, Jaime Tirelli, and Ramon Rodriguez.

Jose is the brilliant cook in his brother’s restaurant who was once in prison for killing a child while driving. When he learns that a recently fired waitress is pregnant and wants to have an abortion, he spends some time with her, discovering that life is full of little wonders.

Entertainment Value: A
This is a sedate movie that takes its time showing us life at its pace, by which it entices you to become more aware of life around you as well. The characters are fairly straightforward, and good. It has a captivating sense, like it’s a foreign film, but one you still want to watch.

Superficial Content: B
Drugs/Alcohol A, Sexuality A, Violence B, Language A, Illegality A
This movie is mostly very clean. However, the opening sequence involves a child being killed by a car, which is extremely disturbing. Obviously, the overall plot of the movie involves sex and abortion, but this does not entail anything explicit. I think PG-9 would be about right.

Significant Content: A
The subtitle of this film was “One day can change your life forever,” and so the movie shows, both for the awful and for the wonderful. And this movie is essentially about the power of time and particular events to shape us. It is one of the clearly pro-life movies of the year, doing so without being anti-abortion. Families matter greatly. Food matters. And the pace of the city influences people to make bad decisions, which they’d learn if they would just slow down a bit. The things we think matter the most at the moment often matter very little in realty. And, most importantly, God's plans are not the same as our plans, but His certainly are better.

Artistic/Thought Value: A
The year 2007 will surely be noted as the year that Christians figured out a way to bypass the standard battle lines in the culture war and simply show meaningful movies. It’s a movie that’s hard to describe because it’s so much of a visual-emotional experience.

Discussion Questions:
~Have you ever had to choose between some pressing obligation and spending time with someone who clearly needed it? What did you do? Would you describe that as ministry?
~How is the pace of this movie connected with the events it portrays? Consider the food being made in the restaurant with the food being made at the family’s house.
~Why do you think Jose takes the time to spend with Nina? How did his previous life as a soccer star and then killing the child change him? Would you call him a crusader?
~What comparisons might you draw between Jose and Jesus Christ?
~Have you ever lived in the city and also in the country or the suburbs? How does the difference in pace between them affect people? Why do you think that people in cities are so much more likely to favor abortion, for instance?
~What is the scene with the blind man in the city meant to show us?
~Verastegui was a very successful Mexican soap opera star before he came to Christ and realized his acting wasn’t doing anything beneficial. How does his choice to do this movie also parallel the motives of Jose?
~How might the events of this day have turned out differently if Jose hadn’t spent time with Nina? What if she had encountered a pro-life protestor rather than Jose?

Overall Grade: A
It surely didn’t make as much money as Juno, but this is a wonderful and equally potent film that all people would benefit from watching.

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