Maricela and her mother Eugenia have fled El Salvador for the US with hopes of building a better life. Unable to find work in her profession as a school teacher, Eugenia becomes a live-in ... See full summary »



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Credited cast:
Mrs. Gannett
Lisa Marie Simmon ...
Stacy Gannett
Carlina Cruz ...
Maricela Flores
Eugenia Flores
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Bruce Solomon ...
Sam Gannett


Maricela and her mother Eugenia have fled El Salvador for the US with hopes of building a better life. Unable to find work in her profession as a school teacher, Eugenia becomes a live-in housekeeper to the affluent Gannett family. Conflict occurs when Maricela clashes with teenage Stacy Gannett, who resents her presence at home and at school. Can Maricela win Stacy's friendship and still remain true to her own ideals and values? Written by Anonymous

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Release Date:

13 September 1986 (USA)  »

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User Reviews

a solid made-for-TV movie
24 February 2006 | by (Walnut Creek, CA) – See all my reviews

As a middle-aged adult and an intermediate level Spanish teacher, I hold "Maricela" to a different standard. "Maricela" not only provides me with an acceptable film for 12-13 year-olds, it also gives me a starting point for explaining to students about U.S.-Central American relations and illegal immigration, and for eliciting from them their thoughts regarding racial discrimination and peer pressure.

If Carlina Cruz, the girl playing the part of Maricela, had sounded like a recent arrival to the U.S. by speaking English with some difficulty or with a noticeable accent, then I think the movie's message (the need for awareness and understanding of the distinct struggles of immigrants) could have had more impact. Apart from that issue, she and the other members of the cast perform more than adequately, both as participants in a video recommended for teachers and as actors in a movie with potential appeal for a wide range of ages.

To me, "Maricela" succeeds, and it does in large part because the characters come across as real: Stacy and her shallow, upper-middle class friends; her ambitious, structured, yet compassionate mother; her easy going, well-intentioned father; the kind-hearted neighbor, who agrees to allow Maricela to walk his dog; and the English teacher, who mispronounces Maricela's name then speaks ironically to his pampered students. They all remind me of people I have known.

The situations also seem plausible. When, for example, Stacy reacts with disbelief upon hearing Maricela say that her mother, a housekeeper here, had taught mathematics in El Salvador, and when Mr. Gannet attempts in a polite but rather contrived way to find common ground for some dialogue with Maricela, they convey their feelings convincingly because of the subtleness of their inflection or change of expression.

Some viewers may find fault with "Maricela" because it lacks the suspense and adventure of other films that deal with Latin American immigrants to the U.S. ("El Norte," for one), or the drama and excitement of the many films that feature teenagers, but they shouldn't, otherwise, criticize the film. Given the limits of a movie made for family television viewing, the actors do a believable job.

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