Echo Park

Refreshingly and unusually, this is a film about Mexican/Americans that doesn’t actually involve drugs, guns and generic violence, which is a relief.

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Country: USA

Language: English

Refreshingly and unusually, this is a film about Mexican/Americans that doesn’t actually involve drugs, guns and generic violence, which is a relief. The story opens at a celebration of the fifteenth birthday of one girl, a traditional ceremony where she is accompanied by her closest friends, almost a coming of age thing, though at a worryingly young age! Magdalena attends the celebration of her cousin and is paired off with the man she loves but cannot help but notice how much better Eileen’s parents are doping financially than her own who are struggling to make ends meet in a very hand to mouth existence.

Echo Park

Echo Park

During the celebration, Carlos, Eileen’s brother turns up and is shoed away by the family who are disgusted with him because he is gay. With no other refuge, Carlos is now living with his Great uncle Tomas, in the Echo Park section of LA. When later it is discovered that Magdalena is pregnant by her young lover, Herman, she too is banished from the household, her uncompromising parents feeling that she has betrayed them and worse, God. She also seeks refuge with Tomas, having been abandoned by Hermann right at the moment when she most needed his love and support.

There is an edge of social comment about this film, highlighting how the more affluent gay community has been picking up dirt cheap property in the area and displacing the poorer Mexican population, the story of one minority group casually oppressing another and it is brave and refreshing to see gays portrayed in this light as real people with their own selfishness. Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland as directors have really gone to town on this movie, giving it this biting almost satirical edge in places but never letting that swamp the characterisation, which is brilliant.

Special mention must go to the stars, Emily Rios and Jesse Garcia, the odd couple who are thrown together by their mutual status as outcasts and looked after by the gentle understanding paternalism of Tomas, played with style and skill by Chalo Gonzalez. This is a bittersweet, sometimes hard hitting, sometimes romantic film that deals with the very real problems of two incompatible communities and produces a result which is as entertaining as it is thought provoking. Recommended.

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