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Bless Me, Ultima (2013)

 -  Drama | War  -  22 February 2013 (USA)
6.4
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 676 users   Metascore: 65/100
Reviews: 19 user | 36 critic | 17 from Metacritic.com

A drama set in New Mexico during WWII, centered on the relationship between a young man and an elderly medicine woman who helps him contend with the battle between good and evil that rages in his village.

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Title: Bless Me, Ultima (2013)

Bless Me, Ultima (2013) on IMDb 6.4/10

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Ultima
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Gabriel
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Maria
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Tenorio
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Narciso
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Uncle Pedro
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Uncle Lucas
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Uncle Juan
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Uncle Mateo
James Victor ...
Antonio's Grandfather
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Andrew
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Eugene
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Leon
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Florence (as Diego Miró-Rivera)
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Storyline

A drama set in New Mexico during WWII, centered on the relationship between a young man and an elderly medicine woman who helps him contend with the battle between good and evil that rages in his village.

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Drama | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some violence and sexual references. | See all certifications »
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22 February 2013 (USA)  »

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2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Quotes

Antonio: Bless me, Ultima.
Ultima: I bless you in the name of all that is good and strong and beautiful.
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Connections

Featured in Maltin on Movies: Jack the Giant Slayer (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

La Feria de Las Flores A.K.A. Me Gusta Cantarle al Viento
Written by Jesus Monge
Performed by Lydia Mendoza
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User Reviews

 
Overly familiar coming-of-age tale
1 October 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Based on the 1972 novel by Rudolfo Anaya (a favorite among high school English teachers), "Bless Me, Ultima" is an autobiographical coming-of-age tale set in 1940s New Mexico. The story is narrated by a now-adult Antonio reflecting back on the events that happened to him and his family when he was a little boy. This includes the arrival of Ultima (Miriam Colon), a sort of cultural shaman, who has come to live out her final days with his family. Weather-beaten and leather-skinned, Ultima is filled with old person wisdom and the power to both heal and cast out evil spirits. It is the latter, in particular, that ends up causing trouble with some of the people in the village, who suspect her of being a "bruja."

Written and directed by Carl Franklin, "Bless Me, Ultima" is what "To Kill a Mockingbird" might have been like had Harper Lee seen fit to imbue it with generous touches of Magic Realism (in that version Boo Radley probably would have been an actual ghost). As befits the genre that also brought us "Like Water for Chocolate," "Bless Me, Ultima" comes replete with incantations, magic spells and a Significant Owl that passively observes all the human activity, then swoops in at keys moments of the story to make its presence felt. Antonio is surrounded by adults who are steeped in religious superstition, and he is forced to bear witness to some pretty horrendous actions arising from that fact. But he also learns from Ultima that, while evil may indeed exist in the world, one can overcome it by becoming one with nature and the spirits that inhabit it.

The structure of "Bless Me, Ultima" tends to be episodic and choppy, a situation that leaves a number of plot lines under-served and a number of characters (Antonio's older brothers, for instance) underdeveloped. On the other hand, the wide-eyed Luke Ganalon makes for an appealing and charming Antonio, and Benito Martinez ("The Shield," "Sons of Anarchy") scores as the dad who dreams of one day moving his family to California.

Despite all the supernatural and preternatural touches, "Bless Me, Ultima" feels overall pretty familiar as coming-of-age tales go, but the unusual setting and Ganalon's performance earn it a mild recommendation.


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