A girl who is anxiously looking forward to her first step into womanhood.
Release Date: 29 September 2006 (UK)
Director: Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland
Writer: Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland
Cast: Emily Rios, Jesse Garcia, Chalo González
Filmed in the working class Latino community of Echo Park in L.A., the movie is about a girl who is anxiously looking forward to her Quinceanera, which according to Latino traditions is an important day for a girl when she turns 15 and takes her first step into womanhood. This ‘coming of age’ marks for a great celebration in the indie culture and the family prepares for a grand ceremony. Our main character, Magdalena (Emily Rios) is eagerly awaiting her Quinceanera, which is to take place in a few months and all she can dream of is of wearing her beautiful gown and being driven in a limousine to and fro from the venue.
Her spirits are however dampened when she finds out that she is pregnant and it won’t be long before her disciplinarian father (Jesus Castanos Chima), a preacher at the local church discovers her secret. Her family disowns her as her father decides to throw her out of the house although she keeps insisting that she has not had sex with her boyfriend, at least not technically. Her pleas fall on deaf ears, as her religious father will not take any explanations. Magdalena tries to convince her boyfriend, the very handsome Herman (J.R Cruz) that he is equally to blame for her pregnancy, but she finds rejection here too.
Magdalena has no other option but to leave home and seek refuge with her great grand uncle Tomas (Chalo Gonzalez), who makes a living by selling a special hot Mexican Drink on the streets. Already living with Tomas is Carlos (Jesse Garcia), Magdalena’s cousin, a recluse who has also been rejected by the family, when his father discovers him browsing gay sites on his computer. Already a black sheep of the family for his wayward ways, Carlos is considered a misfit and hence is thrown out of the house and he lands up at Tomas’ doorstep. Tomas very kindly gives refuge to the two outcasts and the three live as a family.
Their bonding, friendship and care for each other keeps them going until their new neighbours next door move in. The upcoming Echo Park has been attracting the white bourgeoisie society to which belong the new neighbours, a white gay couple (David W Ross and Jason L Wood), who are also now Tomas’ new landlord. The couple takes a keen interest in Carlos, as he discovers his sexuality and engages in a relationship with the gay couple. Matters begin to get worse with Magdalena’s pregnancy becoming more and more visible and the three ultimately being evicted from their home.
Directed by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland, Echo Park L.A, though not a totally new script, attracts a fine share of applause, as being a well directed and brilliantly acted film. Basically consisting of an unknown star cast, the actors in Echo Park have done a superb job of portraying their characters in a very realistic manner. Overly a touching film that explores a family bonding, even though they aren’t immediate family, Echo Park is a thoroughly engaging film that is easy to watch without boredom. We also get a glimpse of the indie culture, while the location sets are well thought out giving the film an authenticity that seals its worth.