Quinceanera (Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland). 90 minutes. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Quinceañera won both the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, allowing the hard indie crowd to get all heartwarmed over My Big Fat Chicana Sweet 15 Party. Well, it must have been an awful Sundance.
The title refers to a Mexican-American girl's coming-out party, which happens at age 15. Magdalena, whose father is a preacher at a storefront church, is waiting for hers when she becomes pregnant, even though she hasn't had sex, sort of.
She runs away to live with her great-uncle and cousin Carlos, who have a long-term lease on a guest house owned by a couple of over-groomed gay yuppies who seem nice but aren't. (Just for an interesting twist, the moviemakers, according to the press kit, see themselves in the latter characters.)
Three really interesting movies are struggling to get out of Quinceañera: one deals with the intergenerational conflict between economically striving parents who still speak Spanish and their daughters, Angeleno to the bone; another is about the nascent battle between the Chicano residents of L.A.'s Echo Park region and gentrifiers in the neighbourhood; and a third is about the possibility of miracles in a grubbily secular world.
Trying to be all of these things, Quinceañera is less a coherent story than a series of evanescent moments - most of which work thanks to remarkable young star Emily Rios.