One of the great Mexican tardyons is celebrated by the new movie “Quinceanera”, a traditional rite of passage. It takes place to signify that fifteen year old girls enter the world of womanhood. Magdalena (Emily Rios) is preparing for her party when the movie opens but she has a secret—she is pregnant. She was raised a devout Catholic girl and the fact that she is “with child” shames her conservative parents and they retaliate by ostracizing her. Distraught by her banishment from her family, Magdalena turns to her Uncle Tomas (Chalo Gonzales) who lives with her cousin, Carlos (Jesse Garcia) in a small apartment in Echo Park, Los Angeles. Carlos is open with her about his being gay and is being wooed by a new male couple which has moved into the neighborhood. What results is a ménage a trios between Carlos and the couple, one a television producer and the other a British citizen. Carlos bonds emotionally with one of the men and the situation becomes sticky and it jeopardizes Magdalena’s new family unit.
In effect the movie takes a careful look at class differences and in doing so looks at the gay characters involved as flawed and it is obvious that Carlos is little more than a sexual pastime for the couple of upper-middle class men. What results is a highly emotional drama that we do not see often in American films but that foreign films seem to have a knack for dealing with.
Performances are excellent in the film and the directors Richard Glatzner and Wash Westmoreland give us a fresh new look on the gay cinema screen. Emily Rios is a charismatic young actress of whom we shall undoubtedly hear more and Chalo Gonzalez as Uncle Tomas gives a performance not easily forgotten. He is warm and laden with emotion that glows in his portrayal.
Everything about this movie is fine, the script, the actors, the photography and the open description of sexuality as well as the sincerity and the love with which it was made.
Awarded several prizes such as the dramatic audience and jury prizes at the 2006 Sundance Festival, “Quinceanera” is a marvelous film—especially because it wears its queerness so well, the gay it balances both gay and straight story lines and the way it deals with such important issues as sexuality, maturation, culture clashes and love.
Simply put this is an amazing film and should not be missed.