You can never tell what life will bring you and you can never tell the magic that it holds. This is the idiom that I am left with every time I view this very stunning, very human film. With such an low-key everyday approach to the circumstances that bring a family-owned restaurant, a soon-to-be-fired pregnant waitress, and the restaurant’s chef together in powerfully provocative situation always leaves me surprised. It unfolds in such a natural progression that it lulls the viewer into an immediate acceptance.
When Nina is late one too many times, slave-driver and restaurant owner Manny cans her and creates a scene that his chef brother Jose follows out the door in a fit of empathy that has him discover her situation and begins a journey neither one of them anticipates! As Jose takes the situation in hand we get to know each of them and we get to learn who they are through both action and story. It is refreshing. When he takes her to another friend’s restaurant for lunch it is not only to feed them or her, but to use his huge good will to get Nina a job almost instantly. It is through these deeds that we get exposed to Jose’s selfless shinning nature that hints at his need to be a savior. As the day progresses and the bond between them is solidified, we get flashes forward to her soon to be attempt at abortion of the life in her and Jose’s support of her either way.
This is also the time he takes her to his parents’ house out on the beach and Nina is immersed in the lush loving atmosphere of his family and their all-encompassing embrace. When his story of his life interrupted is told and the loss of his soccer stardom is felt, we see his pain and start to understand his affinity toward Nina and her situation. As the day of exploration winds down and the wondrous meal and night of beach sitting comes to a close, the almost magic spell is gone and it is back into the city. What is masterful is at this point is filmmaker Alejandro Monteverde so deftly portrays this stark difference between the bustle of city life and the warm bosom of Jose’s family, that as they go their separate ways at the train station an overriding sense of melancholy brings me the viewer down to earth and starkly reminds me of reality of everyday ity life.
As we follow Jose back to the restaurant, for him to walk in, a humble outcast from his brothers domain, we watch him cook the breakfast that softens brothers’ hearts and as they make up like brothers will, Jose whispers something in Manny’s ear that stops him in an ‘are you serious’ moment.
It is here that the revelation of your brilliance shines in the final scene in what is one of the most emotionally charged joyous endings I have ever seen in film. As Nina returns from a time away and Jose greets her it makes you want to stand up and cheer. Whenever we face an irreversible moment that will change our lives forever, sometimes, as in Jose’s case, redemption and providence comes in ways we would never suspect and it something that can at one fell swoop, restore faith when faith is thought to be long dead and gone.
You are a revelation of humanity wrapped into a wonderful film of full of redemption and it makes you a marvel to behold each and every time I see you.
With unwavering love, support, and admiration … forever.