A girl's trip to womanhood not a "Quinceanera"
MTV looks at the world of rich kids and their birthday parties in the reality show "Sweet Sixteen." Girls of Latin descent have experienced big celebrations of their own, called Quinceañeras, when they turn 15. "Quinceañera," the film, follows one girl's troubled journey from childhood into womanhood.
Magdalena (Emily Rios) has just participated in her cousin Eileen's (Alicia Sixtos) elaborate Quinceañera and her own is coming up. Since her family is pinching pennies, Magdalena will wear Eileen's dress. She doesn't mind, but the one thing she is begging her parents for is a Hummer limo to transport her friends and her from the church to the banquet hall.
The limo becomes the least of Magdalena's problems when she learns she is pregnant. She maintains that she is a virgin and has no idea how this happened, neither does her boyfriend Herman. When she finally tells her parents, her father cannot accept it. She leaves the house to stay with her great-uncle Tio Tomas (Chalo Gonzalez) who houses another family outcast, Eileen's brother Carlos (Jesse Garcia).
It's implied that Carlos -- a thief and a former gang member -- is a bad influence. But he becomes involved in a precarious relationship with the gay couple that own the back house that Carlos, Magdalena and Tomas live in. He's invited to a party where he's told several times that Gary and James (David W. Ross and Jason L. Wood) "love their Latin boys." When Carlos' relationship with Gary moves ahead without James, the result is an eviction notice for the outcasts.
Neither of their families will take them back, so banding together is the only way they can survive.
"Quinceanera" takes the life of a 14-year-old girl and turns it upside down. The duel stories of outcast cousins begs the question of how a family can disown its own children.
The point of the move from innocence by Magdalena is poignant with everyone turning their back on her. The hurt people can see through the eyes of a young girl is plenty compelling. However, her pregnancy takes a backseat to the story line of her trying to hold on to her boyfriend, trying to keep her friends and trying to keep her life normal.
Carlos' story has people believing he's a troublemaker and the audience will believe this at first, but then it moves into the true story: It's his sexual preference that ousted him from the family. His subplot seems a bit much, but it's an interesting twist. It might have been in the writers' best interest to write more of a part for Carlos.
Many of the actors show how green they are when it comes to acting. Some of the time the vulnerability pays off, but sometimes confidence was needed to pull off important scenes.
The religious undertones in "Quinceanera" are obvious, but not overwhelming. Despite the movie's title, there was little focus on the party outside the opening and ending sequences. The Hummer limo and want of a new dress are the material things that get the ball rolling on Magdalena's problems, but as time goes on she realizes what's important ... her family.
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