This story takes place within a working-class Hispanic community in Los Angeles where the traditional Quinceanera celebration marks a young girl's rite of passage at age 15 into womanhood. Opening with a Quinceanera, the movie takes off and focuses first for quite awhile upon the romance and sexual awakenings of the two main characters. They are Magdalena, a 14-year-old plain-spoken daughter of a minister, and her cousin, Carlos, an ostracized black sheep of the family who's into petty crime and pot-smoking.
I almost didn't stick with this movie because I felt bored and/or uncomfortable with the teen "scene." I wished I'd never seen one of their contemporary dances that grossly imitated some gross sex. Also I felt uncomfortable watching the predatory gay landlords. Staying with the movie until the end, however, turned out to be very rewarding. Gentle, caring love triumphed. There was depth and grace to the story, after all. And, finally, a felicitous Quinceanera for Magdalena.
It turns out that under the surface of the story one finds a deliberate but subtle allusion to the plight of the Virgin Mary and her protector, Joseph. There is an implicit awareness in the story of Christian values.
The highlight and best pleasure of the movie lies in meeting a real life saint, albeit one who is very ordinary and whose life is obscure. He very sweetly bears on his shoulders, as a gentle yoke, the troubles of Magdalena and Carlos.
If you can't stand to look at life the way it sometimes really happens instead of the way you think it ought to be, don't see this movie. It's realistic, and you may find it too offensive.
There is some minimal rather non-explicit sex, no nudity, and some offensive language. I wonder if the movie is aimed at a teen audience. It would probably be less shocking to teens than to some grown-ups, but I'd classify it as an adult movie, not for kids under 15.
Ultimately, it's a loving story. I experienced it as a blessing, a beneficence that really warmed my heart.