Stars: ** 1/2
Rating: R for language and sexuality
Run Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
The charming rite of passage for a 15-year old Latino girl is the subject of this pleasing yet amateurish drama that won the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize at this year’s venerable Sundance Fest.
limos, catered eats and designer dresses are all the rage at a fashionable
Quick as a
wink ambitions are shattered.
Writer/directors Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland describe their project as a reinvention of the British Kitchen Sink drama of the late 1950s, fueled by the racial and sexual tensions and class distinctions of a neighborhood in transition.
The duo treats their conflicted subjects with respect, exploring the tri-generational warp and woof with affectionate sensitivity. Plot tangents probe up-to-date issues (Carlos’ boy-toy fling with Tomas’ landlord, the personal cost of restoring the urban landscape) with laudable flair.
Unfortunately the cast, most of them relative unknowns, deliver self-conscious performances that color the narrative’s slow and easy charm with the unintentional aura of convention. What should be fresh becomes wooden by virtue of ungainly technique. Snaps to the writers for sidestepping a tidy resolution but I wanted more.