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Movie Review: Quinceanera

Alternate Title: Don't Judge a Book by its Cover

Story: When Hispanic girls turn 15 they meet their community as women in a ceremony called Quinceanea. It is formal, charming and very old world.

Co-writers and directors Wash Westmorland and Richard Glatzer lovingly introduce us to a neighborhood called Echo Park, in Los Angeles, which has long been an immigrant community but is slowly but surely being gentrified - often displacing the long term immigrant tenants.

Magdalena, our 14 year old, becomes pregnant. Her preacher father handles the situation poorly. She moves in with her Uncle Tomas, who has also taken in a cousin, who is the black sheep of the family. The depth of the main characters is slowly revealed to us and we care for each of them.

This film is about unconditional love, respect, family and redemption. What could have been a sapfest in lesser hands turns into a charming independent film, well worth your time.

Acting: Emily Rios is terrific in her first film. Chalo Gonzalez hit a home run as the old Uncle and Jesse Garcia was fabulous as the cousin.

Predilection: None

Critters: Two fluffy dogs.

Food: Lots of yummy Mexican food.

Blatant Product Placement: Coca Cola and Hummer

Opening Titles: A nice overview of Echo Park and its ethnic feel.

Visual Art: Wonderful spots of photos and sculpture.

Weather: It is Los Angeles. It is mostly sunny and 72.

Sappy Factor: 2

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: 0

Drift Factor: I was entertained throughout

Predictability Level: Moderately high

Tissue Usage: I welled a bit.

Oscar Worthy: No

Soap Box: Gentrification is a tricky issue. It is inevitable, yet upsetting and unsettling without affordable housing for the people who are displaced.

Nit Picking: No nits to pick

Big Screen or Rental: Support the Indies and go to the big screen.

Length: Under two hours