Starring: Luke Ganalon, Miriam Colon, Benito Martinez, Delores Heredia, Castulo Guerra
Directed by Carl Franklin
Run Time: 106 mins
Genre: Drama/ War
Opens February 22nd
By Lisa Minzey of The Reel Critic.com
Another new release in Phoenix is the film adaptation of the best-selling Chicano novel of all time, “Bless Me, Ultima” by Rudolfo Anaya. The novel has been on many a list since its first publishing in 1972 but continues to enthrall and enchant readers today. Can the film adaptation live up to the book?
It was the summer of 1944 when Ultima (Miriam Colon) came to live with the Marez family. Antonio (Luke Ganalon) was about to turn seven, starting school and with a curandera coming to live with him and his family, it was an extremely exciting time for them all. Many people misunderstood Ultima, thinking that she was a witch of sorts but Antonito was fascinated and drawn to her like nothing he has ever known. A curandera is a healer, specializing in herbal and alternate medicinal remedies, so although she was feared by many, she was also revered by those she helped.
Antonio and his family lived in a small town in rural New Mexico where much tragedy and strange occurrences took place, many of them witnessed by the young boy. Being so young but wise for his age, he took everything in but questioned it all. With the guidance of his teachers, parents and most importantly Ultima, Antonio takes on many challenges, by his peers, community and supernaturally but will he be able to overcome the tests unscathed?
For a book whose popularity had been mostly word-of-mouth, on one of the most challenged books in the Unites States and is one of the best selling Chicano novels of all time, it’s hard to believe that this story was first published over forty years ago. Although the numbers don’t reflect the type of sales that other franchises are known for, this film adaptation of the well-respected novel is top-notch. With Director Carl Franklin (Devil in a Blue Dress, Out of Time) helming this project, for the film connoisseur, there are so many visual feast for the senses to indulge in. The cast, especially the children actors, are superb in their roles, most notable the role of Antonio played by Luke Ganalon. The wonder and wisdom that this kid actor is able to convey in his young age is pretty astounding. The scenery is gorgeous; the era the story is set in is a great choice and overall an enchanting story that should be watched or read by all. Be sure to check out “Bless Me Ultima” when it opens in theaters starting Friday February 22, 2013.