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Maya is a quick-witted young woman who comes over the Mexican border without papers and makes her way to the LA home of her older sister Rosa. Rosa gets Maya a job as a janitor: a non-union janitorial service has the contract, the foul-mouthed supervisor can fire workers on a whim, and the service-workers' union has assigned organizer Sam Shapiro to bring its "justice for janitors" campaign to the building. Sam finds Maya a willing listener, she's also attracted to him. Rosa resists, she has an ailing husband to consider. The workers try for public support; management intimidates workers to divide and conquer. Rosa and Maya as well as workers and management may be set to collide. Written by
As the daughter of hard-working Mexican immigrant parents and having been raised in one of Los Angeles' poorest barrios, I often saw the story of Rosa and Maya being played out in real life within my family and amongst my neighbors. The authenticity with which this story is told is astounding, showing a deep respect for those who in search of a way to make an honest living, subject themselves to countless humiliations and are relegated to live outside the margins of mainstream America.
Kudos to the writers!! This is the first time I have ever seen an American film in which the dialogue in Spanish was written by someone who actually speaks the language and can grasp the nuances and feeling of the language so perfectly. Richard Hicks is to be commended for casting both Elpidia Carrillo and Pilar Padilla in the roles of Rosa and Maya, respectively. They deliver their dialogue, especially in Spanish, with an emotion and passion that is rarely seen on the Hollywood silver screen. Needless to say, Bread and Roses is now on my list of must-have-films to add to my DVD library.
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