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Movie Review: 'La Mission' Takes On Gays in Latin Culture

Movie Review: 'La Mission' Takes On Gays in Latin Culture

Summary: A former criminal, recovering alcoholic and single father is struggling with his only son being gay. 

Published December 8, 2010

Summary : A former criminal, recovering alcoholic and single father is struggling with his only son being gay.  Set amidst the machismo of Mexican culture, La Mission covers new ground that has rarely been explored in Latin films.

Review :  Yes, we have all heard the story before.  Dad finds out his son is gay and has a neurological breakdown.  While this may seem like territory that has been trekked over a billion times, adding the element of Mexican culture gives La Mission some needed flavor.

Unfortunately, many people think that the gay community equals shirtless White men.  However, the gay community is just as diverse and complicated as any other group, coming in all shades and backgrounds.

Thankfully, this isn't another story about a man "on the down low," but more about family and how destructive someone can be when they are willfully ignorant. Benjamin Bratt gives the best performance of his career as Che,  a single father who prides himself on his masculinity and being a respected figure in his neighborhood.  Jeremy Ray Valdez delivers a breakthrough performance as Jesse, a stellar student and athlete. Knowing his father would hate him if it was ever discovered he was gay, he sneaks around until he is found out.  His father reacts violently, beating him on the sidewalk and the whole neighborhood finds out his son is gay.  His son is terrorized in schools and on the streets, resulting in an awful act of violence.

We also see the return of Erika Alexander , Maxine from Living  Single Not having aged a bit, she is their neighbor and tries to teach respect to Che, but his reactions are always aggressive and violent.

Directed by Benjamin Bratt's brother, Peter Bratt , La Mission could've easily been a made-for-television movie on Logo.  Much of the dialogue is deeply cliched and the scenarios sitcom-typical, but this is not just another gay movie.  This is about respect, culture and the dreams parents have for their children.  The last 20 minutes are particularly painful to watch, showing what happens when people choose to live in ignorance -- it will eat you alive, ruining everything around you.

Without a big budget and little promotion, the creators of La Mission brought together one of the more memorable movies of the year.

Written by Clay Cane

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