on February 19, 2004
I first saw this movie in 1995 when it was first released in theaters. Nine years later, the movie still has the same effect as it did when I first saw it. Although my experiences and my family's experiences are not identical to the ones experienced by the Sanchez family, there are similarities, and I'm sure many other Mexican-Americans can identify with the small things that make this movie so good.
What makes this movie so good is that the director, Gregory Nava, captures the nuances that many Mexican-Americans can relate to. 'Crossing the Bridges,' as Edward James Olmos explains, is something that the patriarch of the family must do when he goes to work on the other side of downtown LA. What's so strange is that many people continue to cross those bridges every day of their lives (literally and figuratively).
Little things like this as well as Chucho's pride in having the best creased pants, the mother's passion for her 'novelas,' and Jimmy Smits' hard personality really give this movie a feeling of familiarity. I also like the fact that Memo goes to UCLA.
The casting is good, and it's weird to see Jennifer Lopez in small roles like this before her rise to stardom. While the movie may not identically reflect the experiences of every Mexican-American, it will be hard not to see some parallels.
This film is a true inspiration to me and gives us all a glimpse into the potential for positive representation of the Latino experience in the United States. The acclaimed director, producer and co-writer of this fantastic film, Mr. Gregory Nava, should've received an Academy Award for his masterful direction of this film, and I believe the actors in this film should've been acknowledged as well. At a time where we all need a voice and are searching for a means to express our experiences in the world, this film is such a blessing for us all to watch.
Through the eyes of three generations of the Sanchez family, a Mexican-American family based in East Los Angeles, we get a sense of their triumphs and struggles that are universal to the human condition, as well as the racism, discrimination, displacement and the struggle for bicultural identity that they all face together as the seasons change. Jose Sanchez, an ambitious young man from Michoacan walked across the border between Mexico and California when it was literally "a line in the dirt" and took up roots there to start a new life and raise a family. The young Jose is played by a beaming, soulful and spirited Jacob Vargas (an actor who has been made a fool of in numerous films since, in "token Latino roles" such as drug dealers and thugs--what a waste of phenomenal talent!), and is then by the legendary Mexican actor, Edward Lopez Rojas. His beautiful wife, Maria, who he first meets while clipping the hedges overlooking a mansion, while she is the nanny to a bunch of little children, is played by the young Jennifer Lopez, who is beautiful, glowing and full of life and courageous inner strength. The older Maria is played by a soulful and tender Jenny Gago. Other wonderful actors in this film include: Edward James Olmos (Paco Sanchez, their son and storyteller), Jimmy Smits (Jimmy Sanchez), Constance Marie (Antonia Sanchez), and Elpidia Carrillo (Isabel Sanchez, Jimmy's Salvadorean wife--a beautiful actress we have seen far too little of!).
The earthy cinematography in this film is comparable to the great murals and naturalistic portraits of Diego Rivera. The vibrant colors and wonderful flashbacks of Mexico make you feel like you are taking the journey with Jose Sanchez from Michoacan to Los Angeles. Beautiful, touching, warm, authentic and lovingly done. We need more films like this to encourage our youth, inspire the generation of today and reach people from all cultural backgrounds. Hopefully, with films like this, we can work toward bringing more projects about life, the experience of Latinos and bicultural identity to the foreground through film.
on August 17, 2004
This is a fine film that stresses the importance of culture and family while never losing its entertainment value. Following the same Mexican-American family from one generation to the next, the film crams a lot into a two hour running time, but the story is effective, well-told, and moving. While some of it was a bit far-fetched, especially Jennifer Lopez's opening bit as the younger version of Maria, the mother, crossing an angry river with her newborn son, the film does pick up and becomes a moving epic about a tough family and their struggles. The casting is terrific, each cast member very believable with their strong performances. I enjoyed this movie and it made me appreciate all my parents have done to keep our family together. This is a terrific slice-of-life made enjoyable by the realism and top-notch cast.
on September 20, 2009
After seeing some clips on you tube, I became interested in seeing the entire movie. I grew up in LA during the 60's and I related to it very well. Very authentic! I enjoyed this movie, as it put me back into a time in my life I truly appreciated. I grew up in an all Mexican neighborhood. That was 38 years ago, and I still travel across the US and go back to the hood to visit my remaining neighbors. They set on hell of a positive experience on this little Italian kid. Thanks to everyone on 3rd St.
on February 24, 2005
I admit I didn't have much confidence in this movie at first, when Jennifer Lopez was the actress who played the mother. However, things began to pick up, and the theme of the story began to appear in numerous events. The relationship between the characters is intricately acted out, especially between the bonds of parents and children. Each member of the family is unique; there's Chucho with his rebellious nature, Memo with his desire to fit in and "succeed", Toni with her political endeavors, Irene with her family and restaurant, Jimmy, who is misunderstood by most, and Paco, the eldest son and narrator, who aspires to become a writer. The mother keeps this family together with her strength and love, and the "jefe" seems strict and unyielding at first, but throughout the movie, the audience can see that he really cares about his family. Following the different characters' eventful and sometimes difficult lives, one sees the importance of identity and family.
on February 1, 2014
I absolutely love this movie, this is the second copy I have had to buy due to letting family members borrow it and it never returning. The story is beautiful and the portrayal of hispanic culture and struggles are real. Excellent movie!
on August 25, 2014
What a great movie! I think, too often, we forget that being American doesn't mean being white. Our greatest pride and achievement as a country should be the rich and diverse cultural heritage that we have. Black, white, Jewish, Asian, eastern Indian, native American, Latino and so much more, combine to give us a more flavorful "stew" than we would have with only one cultural heritage to enjoy. I grew up in Miami, FL, so I didn't know many Mexican/Americans, but I did know the people of the Pureto Rican and Cuban cultures. They brought so much to Miami in terms of music and food and the opportunity to know those who came from a different background than I did.
This movie could have been about any Latino family in any city and I really enjoyed it. Very powerful and moving, it was also honest and sometimes tender. Violent at times, but that was a part of the honesty. The family wasn't always portrayed as nearly achieving sainthood but was a blend of pride, desire, love, and rage - as is many of our own families.
The ensemble cast was wonderful. I really enjoyed seeing these actors when they were much younger. Esau Morales has always been a favorite of mine and I have to wonder why we have never seen as much of him as his talent deserves. Jimmy Smits never fails to turn in a great performance. It was fun seeing Jennifer Lopez as well as many others. We always enjoy seeing actors who, while we might not know their names, we recognize from other shows such as the mother of "Witches of Waverly Place".
I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a good movie to watch.
on September 15, 2013
This video aptly portrays poverty of the Mexican American, their struggle to work and live together to better themselves and retain their culture which was looked down upon during this time frame. Good movie for young people to see to understand struggles of those times and understand it still goes on today.
on March 1, 2016
This is one of the best movies I have ever seen. A true testament to family and love and surviving trad fest and overcoming odds and being human. It is beautiful and sad and funny and REAL. I loved this movie the first time I saw it and I've seen it many times since and never get tired of it. You'll appreciate it if your Mexican and you'll appreciate it if your not. It reaches thru to everyone who can relate to the struggles we all face in life and reminds us how important family truly is.
on June 20, 2014
I love this movie, excellent story to use if discussing immigration/social issues in your classroom (HS), and look for available worksheet on the internet. No movie is just for watching without a good discussion and some work. Just a word of warning, it is rated "R", so you will need Permission slips, there is some swearing and a brief suggested scene of sex, no more than what we are exposed constantly in real life (let's place hypocrisy were it belongs).
Linda pelicula y hermosa historia, especialmente para orientar una discussion sobre temas de inmigracion y diferencias sociales. Una hoja de trabajo esta disponible en la Red. Nada de ver peliculas sin un poco de discussion y algo de trabajo. Claro que la pelicula esta marcada "R" por un poco de palabrotas y lisuras y una escena que sugiere un acto sexual. Segun sea la politica de su escuela es mejor enviar notas de permiso para ver. En fin dejemos la hipocrecia a un lado.