Is it possible that writer Richard Glatzer, of THE FLUFFER fame, and Wash Westmoreland, director of such gay adult fare as TOOLBOX and THE HOLE, have concocted one of the most perceptive movies about the gentrification of Los Angeles? The short answer: yes. Glatzer and Westmoreland's second collaboration is a sensitive film about family, adolescence, class, race, sexuality and the changing face of L.A. It's also sweet as pie. While many American girls celebrate their Sweet Sixteens, in Latin American communities the magic number is 15: That's when Latinas celebrate their quinceaneras, the day adolescent girls become women. Pretty Magdalena (talented newcomer Emily Rios) is about to turn 15, but can't hope for a bash like the one thrown for her wealthier cousin, Eileen (Alicia Sixtos). Magdalena's father (Jesus Castanos), a local pastor and security guard, won't even pay for a new party dress — Magdalena will have to borrow Eileen's — never mind a Hummer limo. But when Magdalena's aunt volunteers to alter Eileen's gown, she notices something her niece can no longer hide: Magdalena's pregnant. Magdalena swears she hasn't had sex with her boyfriend, Herman (Ramiro Iniguez), which can only mean she's either a liar or a milagro in the making. Her father chooses to believe the former and Magdalena is forced to move in with her cousin Carlos (Jesse Garcia), a rough-looking cholo, who was kicked out of his home for being gay. Carlos lives with his kindly, 83-year-old Uncle Tomas (Chalo Gonzalez), in the same charming back house Tomas rented when he arrived from Mexico 28 years earlier. But Echo Park is no longer the same neighborhood: Uncle Tomas' house now belongs to Gary (David W. Ross) and James (Jason L. Wood), a gay couple who consider Echo Park the new hot neighborhood and, like many of their friends, have wisely invested in the homes of longtime renters. Gary and James are happy to have Carlos living next door, until one begins sleeping with him behind the other's back, which endangers the security of Uncle Tomas' family. Considering how smoothly the film flows, it's remarkable how much Glatzer and Westmoreland cram into their tight little script: Not only does it offer a refreshingly different view of Latin American life from the usual gangbanging, but it sharply notes the changing fortunes of L.A. minorities — Latino, gay or both — and the way social changes are reflected in real estate. Most interestingly, the film demarcates an economic divide that no longer simply separates families like Magdalena's from affluent white Angelenos but, increasingly, from families like Eileen's — recent immigrants who begin living the American dream a little faster than everyone else.
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- Released: 2006
- Rating: R
- Review: Is it possible that writer Richard Glatzer, of THE FLUFFER fame, and Wash Westmoreland, director of such gay adult fare as TOOLBOX and THE HOLE, have concocted one of the most perceptive movies about the gentrification of Los Angeles? The short answer: yes… (more)