Growing up in the Mission district of San Francisco, Che Rivera (Benjamin Bratt) has always had to be tough to survive. He's a powerful man respected throughout the Mission barrio for his ... See full summary »
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Growing up in the Mission district of San Francisco, Che Rivera (Benjamin Bratt) has always had to be tough to survive. He's a powerful man respected throughout the Mission barrio for his masculinity and his strength, as well as for his hobby building beautiful lowrider cars. A reformed inmate and recovering alcoholic, Che has worked hard to redeem his life and do right by his pride and joy: his only son, Jes, whom he has raised on his own after the death of his wife. Che's path to redemption is tested, however, when he discovers Jes is gay. To survive his neighborhood, Che has always lived with his fists. To survive as a complete man, he'll have to embrace a side of himself he's never shown. Written by
In several of the "Cruising" scenes, the Thermador Cooler on Che's vintage car disappear and reappear several times throughout the scenes. When they show close-ups of the passenger side window, the Thermador Cooler (the tube device on top of the passenger side door) is gone, while in most of the long shots, it is back. In one close-up you can actually see the wear marks of where the cooler sits on top of the door frame where they took it off for the close up. See more »
"La Mission" is a project of love about the barrio neighborhood the Bratt brothers grew up in. Writer/Director Peter Bratt takes time and care to set up a strong sense of cultural pride with Aztec dancers, Catholic rituals, "slow and low" cruising in shiny low riders through the family oriented Mission District of San Francisco.
Che Rivera (Benjamin Bratt) an ex-con and recovering alcoholic, has worked hard to earn the respect of his community by going straight and being a good father to his college bound son (Jeremy Ray Valdez.) Benjamin Bratt portrays Che as the embodiment of Mexican machismo. The director presents him as a sympathetic character who was brought up to use his fists to survive on the hard streets. Che finds strength for his quest for redemption in his culture and religion. But when he discovers that his beloved son is gay, that homophobic culture drives his negative response.
Enhancing the theme is a multi-racial relationship with Che's black, culturally diverse, social-worker neighbor Lena (Erika Alexander.) Lena sees through Che's violent, macho exterior. Experience has taught her that this kind of man is incapable of changing, but she can't help but be moved by the wounded boy inside.
There is an odd visual metaphor which I believe is meant to show the contrast between past and present Chicano culture: colorful Aztec dancers perform at the shine of a murdered teen with a sign, "No more violence." I found it odd because the Aztec's practiced human sacrifice. Whether intentional or not, the Aztec dancers are a good metaphor for the theme: We need to keep what is healthy from our culture or religion and let go of what is destructive.
"La Mission" isn't perfect. A few scenes were just left hanging - especially in the romantic subplot. I didn't feel the chemistry between Che and Lena. But Benjamin Bratt delivers one of his strongest performances. The brothers have given us an authentic, loving depiction of the culture in the Mission barrio with an important theme for our times.
Movie Blessings! Jana Segal,Reel Inspiration
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