'Bella': As Time Creeps By
When you know, practically from the beginning, what's going to happen at the end of a movie, what do you do with your time in between? Offer to buy everyone in the theater popcorn while you sit this thing out? Check cellphone messages? Catch up on lost sleep?
We opted to just watch "Bella," a Mexican movie in which the outcome is never in doubt, the scenes are endless -- sorry, we meant poetic-- and the false beard on the central character's face looks as though it could use a little extra gum.
Directed and co-written by Alejandro Gomez Monteverde, "Bella" centers on Jose (Eduardo Ver¿stegui), a promising soccer star whose career is permanently stalled when his car claims the life of a child who dashed into the road. Traumatized (and bearded) by this terrible event, Jose becomes the head chef at his brother Eduardo's Mexican restaurant in New York. But when Eduardo (Ramon Rodriguez) fires Nina (Tammy Blanchard), a pregnant employee, Jose impulsively walks out of the kitchen to console her.
One conversation segues into what seems to be eternal walking and talking between Jose and Nina, as she discusses her desire to abort her child and Jose experiences fragmentary flashbacks of his initial trauma.
Anybody need any help with where this is going?
Monteverde busies himself with creating a world of texture and characters around Jose and Nina. We observe the hustle and bustle and the good-natured workers of Jose's restaurant kitchen. And we meet Jose's family, to whom he introduces Nina. But as the film amiably observes the passage of time, we can only think about the clock.
-- Desson Thomson
Bella PG-13, 90 minutes Contains disturbing images. In Spanish and English with subtitles. Area theaters. Bella PG-13, 90 minutes Contains disturbing images. In Spanish and English with subtitles. Area theaters.