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La Mission (2009)

A movie directed by Peter Bratt

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Tradition, Family and Rage

  • May 29, 2010
  • by
"La Mission"

Tradition, Family and Rage

Amos Lassen

It is not often that we get a film of brilliance like we get in "La Mission" and this is all due to Benjamin Bratt who does a beautiful, or should I say, gorgeous, job piece of acting in his portrayal of a complex, tortured conservative Latino who is pushed to emotional boundaries. Bratt is Che Rivera, a guy growing up in the mission district of San Francisco who faces the toughness of survival. He is powerful and masculine and respected throughout the area. He builds car and has worked hard to redeem himself and his life after having been an alcoholic and a felon. He wants to do right for his son, Jes, who he has raised alone since the death of his wife. However redemption is not easy especially when he discovers that Jes is gay and he is tested. He realizes that he has to now embrace a side of him he has never known.
When Che discovers that Jes is gay we see a violent, emotional dark and powerful scene. We watch two men who obviously love each other react violently, Jes is his father's younger self--he is strong and is not willing to compromise what he believes and he is like his father who holds on to traditional values. We get a look at a culture many of us have never seen and here is the beauty of the film. Jeremy Ray Valdez plays Jes and he is a true revelation as an actor. His range of emotions is incredible and he matches Bratt's beautiful performance.
The film is extremely powerful and beautifully detailed as it shows us what goes on in one segment of society. The movie is a labor of love for Peter Bratt who wrote and directed it and his brother, Benjamin who stars. We feel their nostalgia for the San Francisco they grew up in the 1960's.
I have read mixed reviews of the film. Some feel it is too "teachy" but I feel that those critics miss the point entirely. Many of us have little knowledge of what goes on in Latino/American culture and here is a chance to see. Everything is not resolved neatly at the end but we do see realities of life with different perceptions. These is nothing false in the film and the entire cast is excellent. The colors are rich and the music is perfect. I could go on and on but I won't because I want you to experience this yourself.

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More La Mission (2009 movie) reviews
review by . August 11, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Writer/director Peter Bratt had the choice in LA MISSION to make a film about the Hispanic culture in San Francisco's Mission district to create a predictable imitation of life or a sensitive study of a culture with all of its beauty and with all of its problems: gratefully he took the latter. This is a film bursting with fantastic color from the inimitable clash of pigments used for the interiors of the homes of this culture to the fantasyland carefully restored old cars painted with religious …
review by . July 09, 2010
Che Rivera (Benjamin Bratt) defines himself not merely by his ethnic and spiritual culture, but also by street culture, growing up tough and maintaining that image on a daily basis. Living in the Mission district of San Francisco, he earns the respect of his neighbors by being the very definition of masculinity: Physically strong, emotionless except for anger, able to finish a fight should one start. He's also passionate about restoring classic cars, a hobby that requires intensive manual labor. …
About the reviewer
Amos Lassen ()
Ranked #208
I am an academic who reivews movies and books of interest to the GLBT and Jewish communities.   I came to Arkansas after having been relocated here due to Hurricane Katrina. I was living in … more
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About this movie


For this affecting labor of love, Peter Bratt focuses on a Latino widower with rigid views on masculinity. A bus driver covered in tattoos, Che Rivera (the filmmaker's brother, Benjamin Bratt) lives in San Francisco's Mission District with his son, Jes (Jeremy Ray Valdez). A recovering alcoholic who customizes low-riders on the side, Che takes pride in the high school senior's academic achievements, but he doesn't take kindly to homosexuals--and has no clue about Jes's secret life until he finds the photographic evidence. As expected, he gets upset, but Jes's insulting defense only makes matters worse and leads Che to kick him out. While Jes stays with relatives until things cool down, Che tries to resist the bottle, but word travels fast in a close-knit community, and the personal becomes political when bullies hassle the Riveras, leaving Che to consider revenge. Lena (the radiant Erika Alexander), a concerned neighbor who works at a women's shelter, tries to help father and son mend fences, but there's only so much she can do. She's also interested in Che, and he in her, but their personalities present a more significant obstacle than race or culture. In less adept hands,La Missioncould've become a preachy soap opera, but despite a few creaky plot mechanics, Bratt's attention to detail ensures that his characters register more as sympathetic individuals than stereotypes. He's aided in his efforts by strong performances, ...
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Director: Peter Bratt
Genre: Drama
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: August 10, 2010
Runtime: 117 minutes
Studio: Screen Media
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