Rated R for language, some violence and sexual content, 117 minutes
Affecting Latino drama in "La Mission"
"La Mission" is a bueno drama with a Latin flavor set against the backdrop of the Mission neighborhood of San Francisco. Leisurely, talky but well-acted, it's addresses some tough but modern issues in the Latino community, but ones that we can all relate to. The independently-produced drama is a solid effort that stars "Law & Order's" Benjamin Bratt and some sweet low rider cars.
Bratt is Che Rivera (not to be confused with the Argentine activist leader Che Guevara), a San Francisco bus driver with a past and trying to move forward. A recovering alcoholic and reformed inmate, he's also a widower and single parent to Jesse (Jeremy Ray Valdez), a bright teenager who's close to his dad. Known in his barrio for his strength and masculinity, he's also well-liked and enjoys playing hoops and his favorite hobby, rebuilding low rider cars. But his character stands a huge test when he finds out that Jes is gay and he must embrace another side of his masculinity that will complete him as a man.
"La Mission" is an involving dramatic look at the complexities of modern Latino life. The low-budget film has been playing to decent reviews on the festival circuit and is a Bratt family affair. Bratt stars and co-produces, his older brother Peter directs and writes the film and Benjamin's wife Talisa Soto also has a small role in the film.
Bratt, as the hardened and hard-working man faced with new issues, ably carries the film in a different role for him, in a character who's required to change to move forward with his life. Valdez also has a couple of touching moments as the young man coming to terms with his sexuality. The lovely TV actress Erika Alexander also exudes warmth as an independent-minded woman who moves into the same building as Che and attracts his attention.
"La Mission" is a watchable, admirable film whose main focus is that of acceptance and growth of those in a different lifestyle. It sags a little in the mid-section and Peter Bratt's direction is a little heavy-handed at times, but in the end it fulfills it's purpose on a satisfying note. And there's some beautiful low-rider cars prominently featured in the film, and those familiar with the San Francisco area will note the Bay Area locals.
"La Mission" is an enjoyable film with some honorable messages mixed in with a little Latino flavor for good measure, and it's worth a look.