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Starring: Emily Rios, Chalo Gonzalez, Jesse Garcia, David W. Ross, Jason L. Wood
Director: Richard Glatzer
Rating: M18 (Some Mature Content)
Year Made: 2006






Languages: English/Spanish
Subtitles: English
Aspect Ratio: 4x3 Letterbox
Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0
Running Time: 1 hr 30 mins
Region Code: 3
Distributor: Comstar



Magdalena (Emily Rios) is the daughter of a Mexican-American family who runs a storefront church in Echo Park, Los Angeles. With her fifteenth-birthday approaching, all she can think about is her boyfriend, her Quinceañera dress, and the Hummer Limo she hopes will carry her on her special day.

But a few months before the celebration, Magdalena falls pregnant. As the elaborate preparations for her Quinceañera proceed, it is only a matter of time before her religious father finds out and rejects her.

Forced out of her home, Magdalena moves in with great-great uncle Tomas (Chalo Gonzalez). Already living with him is Carlos (Jesse Garcia), Magdalena's cousin, a tough but handsome young man who was thrown out by his parents, because of homosexuality.

The back house rental where Tomas has lived happily for many years is on a property that was recently purchased by an affluent white gay couple (David W. Ross and Jason L. Wood) - pioneers of gentrification in the neighborhood. Inevitably, worlds collide when they become entangled in the lives of their tenants.


When you watch something on screen, and it mirrors a lifestyle which you are familiar with, it does not really matter which part of the world the film originated from. That is also when you connect with the movie wholeheartedly.

Although this film is set in Echo Park in Los Angeles where Latin Americans reside, it touches on universal themes which you and I which you and I living on this small island can feel for.

The 90-minute film is fundamentally about growing up, and the complications that accompany it. The story sees a young girl approaching her 15th birthday, and things may not be all sweet and blissful when she finds herself pregnant, between wanting a pretty Quinceanera (the traditionally important celebration for a young girl on her 15th birthday) dress and a limousine on her big day.

Couple that with notions of homosexuality, racial tension and class divide and you’d have a plot that is worthy of a rich human drama. And the judging panel at 2006’s Sundance Festival has rightly awarded the film with the Grand Jury Prize, making it a favourite at film festival circuits everywhere.

Directors Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland wrote the screenplay for this charming movie, and it works because there is no pretence, no contrived characters and no manufactured feel throughout its entire running time. There is the school clique which you once wished you belonged to. There is the boy-girl relationship which meant everything to you. And there is the perpetual family relationships which you probably took for granted.

Put in the centre of this movie as the young girl faced with a new phase of life, Emily Rios plays this character with the right amount of charm and authenticity without being over showy and unnatural. Jesse Garcia plays her gay brother with a fresh portrayal of a Latin homosexual, something we don’t see in films a lot. The rest of the characters, ranging from her religious father, her caring uncle and her selfish boyfriend, are played by a reliable ensemble of unfamiliar faces.

That is an advantage for a film like this too, because these people are people we see around us. And having perfect-looking Hollywood stars playing them isn’t exactly the most engaging way for audiences to experience the film. In a world where we are increasingly familiar with what we see on celluloid, big names aren’t what we want to see in an earnest production like this.


This Code 3 disc contains no extra features.


We have no qualms about the visual transfer, and there is an option of Spanish and English Dolby Digital 2.0 or 5.1.



Review by John Li


Alternative Opinion:

. The movie review by our columnist

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This review is made possible with the kind support from Comstar


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