One Day...3 Lives Changed
Of all the movies, I saw in 2007, Bella was by far my favorite. It is arguably the best independent film I've ever seen. With too many glowing compliments like these, it could be easy for this movie to fall victim to expectations that were just too high. This is an independent movie, a labor of love that was made at just about $3 million. A friend who had seen it told me, "The acting isn't perfect. The script isn't perfect. But you leave the movie a better person. It is a love story without a romance." That is a pretty good review in a nutshell, and lowered my expectations just enough to be completely impressed by the acting and story in Bella. The conclusion is sublime. This movie resonates in your soul long after you leave the theater. That is a rare accomplishment. So while it is not of the highest filmmaking caliber, this movie continues to capture the hearts of audiences, already grossing $7 million (in a very limited release) and winning the Toronto International Film Festival's only honor, the People's Choice Award. (Notable past recipients include Hotel Rwanda, Whale Rider, Amelie, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Life is Beautiful. An impressive track record of inspiring movies.) That is where the awards ended though. It is sad that such a unique movie has received such little mainstream attention and recognition. It would be very easy to let this movie slip by, but I encourage you to seek it out.
In case you haven't already heard, Bella is the story of a waitress that finds out she is pregnant and the cook who tries to convince her to have the baby. The themes of the movie are definitely Christian, but I'm hesitant to call it a "Christian movie" because it is not sappy or preachy or inhabited by black and white characters. It is a human movie. It is real and authentic with complex characters who each struggle with their brokenness. I went in expecting to like this movie because of what it stood for. I left loving it because of its quality. The cinematography deserves to be singled out. Intimate, gorgeous lensing lends itself to the story with subtle beauty. For a feature film debut, director Alejandro Gomez Monteverde deserves to be applauded.
I think the perfect way to experience Bella would be to have about 3 friends over for dinner, eat rich food, watch the movie, and discuss your thoughts afterward over a glass of wine. My wife is also planning to use it with our church's youth group when it is finally released on DVD. Bella will uplift you and make you think about providence at the same time. It takes the expression "Everything happens for a reason" and makes it visible on film.