BELLA (Alejandro Monteverde) 91 minutes. Opens Friday (April 11). For venues and times, see listings. Rating: NN
Bella washes up like driftwood at the end of the wave of pregnancy comedy/dramas like Waitress and Knocked Up. Arriving four months after Juno and even more manipulative, it’s bleached of all impact or relevance.
Winner of TIFF’s 2006 People’s Choice Award (presumably for its ability to woo impressionable crowds), Bella introduces us to José (Eduardo Verástegui), a former soccer star whose career and rugged good looks have been sidelined by tragedy. He now hides behind a grisly beard and works as a chef in the kitchen of his brother Manny’s restaurant.
Looking like Jesus Christ and imparting wisdom like Karl Marx (and sometimes vice versa), José befriends the pregnant Nina (Tammy Blanchard). After getting fired from the restaurant, Nina seriously contemplates abortion, refusing to bring a child into a world she’s certain is cruel.
José hopes to convince her (and us) otherwise, and escorts Nina on a daylong tour of the most beautiful happy-happy postcard-worthy pockets in indifferent New York City.
Heavy on religious symbolism, Bella’s determinist approach shuns skepticism and promotes blind faith. It’s the kind of film that asks no questions, makes your decisions for you and then pats you on the back for having made them.
If only life were so easy.