Echo Park LA (15)
Time Out says
Tue Sep 26 2006Set in and around Echo Park, a working-class Latino neighbourhood of LA, this first feature centres on Magdalena (Emily Rios), a Mexican-American fast approaching her fifteenth birthday and the traditional quinceañera, a major bash celebrating the transition to womanhood. Her deeply religious dad is sufficiently conservative to refuse the now obligatory limo to ferry her to and from the party, so it’s no surprise when the discovery that she’s pregnant sees her thrown out of the house. Fortunately, there’s a room and sympathy for her with great uncle Tomas (Chalo González), who’s already given shelter to her hunky but hardly friendly cousin Carlos (Jesse Garcia), a black sheep of the family already attracting the curiosity of the white gay couple who’ve just moved in next door and become Tomas’s landlords. It’s a rich mix, and a baby’s on the way; something, surely, has to give…
A little improbably, the inspiration for Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmore-land’s film was the ‘kitchen-sink’ realism of Britain’s Free Cinema of the late ’50s and early ’60s. And yes, it does deal with ordinary folk facing fairly familiar predicaments, the dramatic tone is mostly low-key and there’s an unemphatic but persistent sense of the social and political dimensions of the narrative unfolding. Now and then, the film calls to mind the kind of safe-sex asides that marred, say, ‘Just Another Girl on the IRT’, but mostly its observations are deft, droll and persuasive enough for any proselytising not to be a problem. Touching, charming and very engagingly played, it offers perceptive insights into LA Latino culture as well as solid, slightly old-fashioned entertainment.
Author: Geoff Andrew
Fri Sep 29, 2006