I encourage you to go see this movie and support it.
I saw it last spring when those who attended the Rose Dinner after the National March for Life got a preview. It's a sweet, good movie with a heartwarming ending.
Now, interestingly, Barbara Nicolosi, founder of Act One, a workshop to equip Christians to write compelling screenplays, is not a big fan of the movie.
She writes at her blog Church of the Masses:
A producer on the film subsequently left a message on my voicemail noting that my refusal to support the film had its source "in the demonic." Really? "Demonic"? It couldn't just be that I found the film plodding, easy, sloppy and uneven? In short, I don't think Bella is great. It's not really "Catholic" (in the sense of overt spirituality). And it really isn't pro-life (in the usual sense of that term).
What is going on is a wildly over the top marketing blitz in which the investors in the project are trying desperately to recoup their investment, by telling good Catholic people that they must support this film to send a message to Hollywood. As with so many other mediocre Christian movies, the only "message" that Hollywood will get if Bella does well, is that the Christian audience has no idea what a good movie is and will rave about anything that remotely mirrors our world-view.
Now, in the interest of full-disclosure, I haven't seen the film in over a year since it was in rough cut. In the weeks before the project was shot, I had read the "screenplay" (and I use the term loosely, because it was astoundingly unprofessional, but I understand from one of the producers that "80% of the script was thrown out on set as the actors improvv-ed the scenes...."Oh great," I thought. "That will fix things just fine.") My notes on the project were, "This screenplay is deficient in every area in which it can be." I noted that there was no real story, and that the character's choices were unmotivated. There was no conflict, no theme, no imagery, no subtext and no structure. And the dialogue was very bad. And there was a lot of stylistic showing-off that had nothing to do with the main story.
Read the rest here.
I agree that Bella is not a "great" movie. Few movies are truly great. But I think it is a good movie, both enjoyable and heartwarming. While she makes some points worth thinking about. And there are plenty of movies with worse screenplays, worse production values that are making it to theatres every day that have a horrible message. The dialog that made it into the film was not noticeably bad--there was maybe one place there the line sounded a bit wooden to me. The actors did a really good job. I would notice if the dialog was that bad, believe me.
I believe if Bella is a success, the next movie this company does will be even better. Here's Joseph Farah's
take on Bella. I agree with him about how the movie will leave you feeling. That's why I say go see it. It's good.
In many ways it is the opposite of "The Passion." It is a little picture – small budget, simple story. Chances are you won't know most of those involved in the picture. In fact, the only person with a Hollywood resume is one of the co-producers who helped shepherd the project through its unlikely birth to its critical success as winner of the prestigious Toronto Film Festival People's Choice Award. That would be Steve McVeety, who also produced "The Passion."
But it's the performance of another co-producer, the acting star of "Bella," Eduardo Verastegui, a Mexican acting and recording icon in one of his first U.S. roles, that will leave you uplifted, teary-eyed and filled with hope. The story of how Verastegui's career led to the making of "Bella" would make for an interesting script itself.
The son of a sugar-cane farmer from the small northern Mexico village of Xicotencatl, Tamaulipas, Verastegui knew he wanted to be a performer at the age of 17. Gifted with good looks, he headed off to acting school in Mexico City.
Two years later, however, it was his singing voice that jump-started his entertainment career. He had an opportunity to travel the world in the Latin pop group Kairo for three years. Later, capitalizing on his acting skills, he accepted a contract for a Latin soap opera – leading to four renewals and acting superstardom with magazine cover stories and fans in 19 countries.
But Verastegui's restless heart was unfulfilled. He longed to do something of "substance" – something meaningful – with his abilities.
Moving to Los Angeles, he was hired to perform with Jennifer Lopez in her music video "Ain't It Funny." He was immediately noticed in Hollywood. But the roles coming his way were for characters of what he characterizes as "low morals" – criminals and playboys. He turned them down flat.
After 12 years as a pop-group idol, soap-opera star, solo artist, lots of beautiful women, money and fame, Verastegui said his soul was still empty. He wanted more – and he did not mean the things the world measures as success.
Specifically, he thought about his father, a hard-working man with integrity and love for his son and three daughters. He wanted a life of integrity like that.
Read it all.
For my story on Eduardo Verastegui, go here.
If you want to see him dancing with Jennifer Lopez, go here.
But maybe you'll have to go to confession afterwards. ;-) But it puts in perspective what he gave up when he turned his life over to Christ. I wish him and the rest of the Bella cast and crew all the best with their movie. And I hope Metanoia's next effort is one that Barbara Nicolosi will describe as a great movie.