21 February 2013 7:00 AM, PST | ioncinema | See recent ioncinema news »

Bless This Mess: Franklin’s Period Piece Strangles Intriguing Premise

Carl Franklin returns with Bless Me, Ultima, his first feature since 2003’s Out of Time. An adaptation of a 1972 novel by Rudolfo Anaya, which is reputedly the best selling Chicano novel of all time, is actually the first novel of a trilogy, documenting the coming of age of a young boy in 1940’s New Mexico through his special relationship with an elderly family friend. Told with flourishes of magical realism depicting the mysticism and folkways of the indigenous culture of the area, this tale of a young boy’s spiritual transformation documents the vainglorious struggles of Christianity encroaching on the ways of old world pagan rituals and his subsequent disillusionment with religion. What sounds like a philosophically intriguing premise doesn’t quite translate in this bluntly conditioned film treatment that butchers a Bildungsroman into a parody of good vs. evil. »

- Nicholas Bell

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