Live, Laugh, Love ‘Bella’
‘A man with a hidden past and a girl with an uncertain future’ is the tagline for ‘Bella,’ directed by Alejandro Gomez Monteverde. ‘Bella’ is the story of two people who fall in love because of an unborn child. Winner of the 2006 Toronto Film Festival, it is a touching story with brilliant direction and cinematography.
The story isn’t anything special but, what truly makes this film beautiful (aside from the hunky blue-eyed actor Eduardo Verastegui), is its breathtaking cinematography and attention to detail. Verasetgui, with his strong features, deep blue eyes and dark hair plays Jose, a man with a hidden past who becomes the sole confidant of a lost girl. We first meet Jose dressed up and wearing patent leather shoes. He dances in the street with a six-year-old girl, living the good life. We learn that Jose is a soccer player, just signed to a new team and on his way to a press conference with his manager Francisco. While he waits for Francisco to get ready, he kills time by playing and dancing with the neighborhood children in the street.
The film then flashes forward from the laid-back atmosphere of quiet neighborhood streets to the fast-paced life of a restaurant’s kitchen. Again, we see Jose, except this time looking like a caveman with a dark overgrown beard, long hair and an unsmiling face.
The story moves on like this, back and forth, each time to reveal a little more about Jose’s hidden past and how it plays into his present.
We meet Nina as a frightened and distraught young woman who finds out that she is pregnant. Nina is a waitress at Jose’s brother’s restaurant. After showing up late due to morning sickness, Nina is fired by Jose’s brother, Manny, and a concerned Jose follows her to the subway. Once he learns that she is pregnant and alone in the world, he leaves his job as head chef at his brother’s restaurant and stays with Nina.
Jose and Nina get off the subway and explore the city. They walk and talk, have lunch, share memories and go to a restaurant where the owner, a friend of Jose’s, offers to hire them both. Along the way, Jose tries to persuade her to have the child. He is motivated by reasons that are fully explained in the flashbacks to his hidden past. One of the most touching moments of the film takes place while Jose and Nina are walking through New York City. They come across an old and blind homeless man who makes paper frogs. The man asks Nina to describe the day to him, the flowers and people he can’t see. After she describes his surroundings in full detail, he gives her the paper frog as a token of his appreciation.
This scene is particularly touching