Nava's first film since A Time of Destiny, written with his wife and collaborator Anna Thomas, and produced under the auspices of Francis Coppola, is an ambitious saga charting 60 years and three generations of the Sanchez family. Nava exacerbates the structural problems posed by the time-frame by relying too heavily on a folksy voice-over and by adapting his mise-en-scène to the decades, so that the 1920s sequence, in which paterfamilias Jose walks from Mexico to Los Angeles, is relayed in a mystic, misty-eyed style, complete with DW Griffith optical effects. Survive this (and it's a chore), and things come into sharper focus in the '50s, where scenes of teen angst - the death of young tearaway Chucho (Morales) at the hands of the police - are rendered in bold, saturated compositions which inevitably recall gang movies of the period. By the late '70s, the film's fragments of love, pain, anger and injustice are really beginning to add up, particularly in impassioned scenes between youngest son Jimmy (Smits) and illegal immigrant Isabel (Carrillo, a revelation here). It's shapeless, but there's iron in its soul.
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||Anna Thomas, Gregory Nava|
Edward James Olmos
Eduardo Lopez Rojas