A Hispanic teenager travels the rough road to adult responsibility earlier than she expected in this independent drama. Magdalena (Emily Rios) is a young Latina who is looking forward to her upcoming quincea±era celebration -- the 15th birthday party that marks the passage into adulthood for Mexican-American women. Magdalena's expectations are ...Read MoreA Hispanic teenager travels the rough road to adult responsibility earlier than she expected in this independent drama. Magdalena (Emily Rios) is a young Latina who is looking forward to her upcoming quincea±era celebration -- the 15th birthday party that marks the passage into adulthood for Mexican-American women. Magdalena's expectations are raised by the lavish party her older cousin Eileen (Alicia Sixtos) gets for the occasion, but Magdalena's mother (Araceli Guzman-Rico) and father (Jesus Castanos-Chima) insist on a lower-key affair that will focus on the more responsible aspects of grown-up life. However, Magdalena gets a crash course in that subject when she discovers she's pregnant with the child of her boyfriend, Herman (J.R. Cruz); life at home becomes unbearable for her, and she leaves to live with her more sympathetic uncle, Tio Thomas (Chalo Gonzalez). Home for Tio Thomas and Magdalena is a small apartment in a building owned by James (Jason L. Wood) and Gary (David W. Ross), a gay couple looking to gentrify the neighborhood. Magdalena strikes up a friendship with her cousin Carlos (Jesse Garcia), a roughneck teen with a good heart who is also on the outs with his family when they discover he's experimenting with his sexuality. Produced in part by Todd Haynes, Quincea±era received its premiere at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. Mark Deming, RoviRead Less
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This thoughtful film got lost in its theatrical release, because it was compared with another Sun Dance Film, Little Miss Sunshine. I don't mean to dis the latter film, but Quinceanera is of an altogether different order. Its honesty probably offended two potential markets, because it is frankly critical of the commercialization and hypocrisy of the Quinceanera rite of passage as it is currently practiced in the Latino/American community and because it is very forthright in portraying the influence of Gay gentrifiers moving into a neighborhood. The ending is also a bit of a let-down, when the heroine gets her Quinceanera after all with all the gaudy trimmings, simply because she has proven to her family that she is still technically a virgin. Perhaps this was intended as ironic, but it doesn't come off that way.
Nevertheless, the character portrayals, particularly that of the grandfather and the girl are worth the trip by themselves. Its brutal honesty which wrecked it at the box office will in the long run vindicate it. This is a film that manages to be sweet, thoughtful, and tough all at once. It has grown in my memory since I first saw it to the point where I now own a copy. I feel that time will show it to have strong critical staying power.