"There are things we just don't understand"¦" "“ Gabriel
Based on the novel of the same name, Bless Me, Ultima focuses on a young boy, Antonio, and an old medicine woman, Ultima, as they do battle against evil forces and witches in New Mexico during World War II.
Having never read the book, I went into this movie not knowing what to expect "“ I left feeling the same way. Bless Me, Ultima is a tough movie to review for one simple reason, it contains the "What was that?!" effect. The movie is supposed to be about an old medicine woman, a witch to others, and it turned out that that it is merely one of the many plot points contained within the confines of this story. Other points include Antonio's first communion, his relationship with an atheist his own age and his relationship with God. After a while, you do lump it all together as one giant "good versus evil" theme, but it takes entirely too long to get there.
The directing was good. Carl Franklin did a great job capturing the beautiful landscape of New Mexico (the cinematographer and director of photography should also get credit for this). One drawback was the acting. Outside of the six main cast members and the kids who were with Antonio's class, the rest of the film was very two-dimensional. I didn't feel much passion from the rest of the family.
That all being said, there were a few redeeming qualities to the movie. There was the great scenery. Benito Martinez has a wonderful scene where he answers his son's question about God and why there is still evil in the world. Miriam Colon was a wonderful actress in it, and Antonio's friends and the way they acted while getting their first communion took me back to my own experience. Luke Ganalon gave a good performance as Antonio. He had an innocence about him that showed through the screen, but then, almost on cue, the narrator's voice would intercept and yank you out of the moment with his snooze-inducing tone.
In the end, if you liked the novel then maybe you should go see Bless Me, Ultima to see how it compares. I do hope that it measures up to the book. As I quoted earlier from the movie, "There are certain things we just don't understand." While Gabriel might have been talking about God's plan for all of us, I use it more as a reference to the film.