Luis Hernandez | New York, New York, USA | 09/24/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Spanning three generations, "My Family" ("Mi Familia" in Spanish) is fascinating account of one family's struggle to stay together and survive the mean streets of East Los Angeles. Narrated by Edward James Olmos ("Stand & Deliver"; television`s "Miami Vice"), the film centers on a Mexican-American family who want to achieve the American dream, however they face obstacles along the way.The film, directed by Gregory Nava ("Selena") is an honorable, beautiful, and tragic masterpiece that captures the essence of what it is to be Latino in Southern California. Using realism and incorporating local and Mexican slang, Nava, along with writer Olmos provide the viewers with close yet a distant relationship with the family. Many actors, including Scott Bakula ("American Beauty"; television`s "Quantum Leap"), Esai Morales ("La Bamba"; "Rapa Nui"), Michael DeLorenzo (television`s "NY Undercover") and Lupe Otinveros ("Selena") lend their wonderful artistic support to this film, however the real scene stealer here has to be Jimmy Smits ("Old Gringo"; television`s "NYPD Blue"), who plays younger brother Jimmy. Jimmy, who gets released from prison finds himself helping his sister, who was a former nun, in preventing the deportation of a young Salvadoran woman, who faces death if she was to return to war-stricken El Salvador. While he is coerced in marrying her, he believes it is only a short-term marriage. But when these two accidental-lovers get together and discover the beauty and support they lend to one another, love is here to stay. However all happy stories come with their tragic endings and Smits carries this film through most of its final stages with his effective acting.Whether it is dealing with intercultural marriages, street gang violence, or the everyday fears many illegal immigrants face each day with deportation lurking around the corner in some cases, "My Family" is an excellent portrait of how important culture and family are among Latino households. This is a must see film for anyone interested in Latino Studies. An excellent film and an eternal classic, "My Family" is a stunning film that should be watched by all who want to understand the history, legacy, and contributions of America's fastest growing minority group."
Great acting and a great cast.
Vincent D. Guillen | Albuquerque,NM | 04/22/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"My Family chronicles the Sanchez family over three generations. From the parents migration from Mexico to East LA. The movie shows the struggle of the Immigrants to survive in America with the lack of education, but a determination to improve their lives in America. The family is split by the cynical views of the rebel sons Chucho(Esai Morales) and Jimmy(Jimmy Smits) and the political views of the NUN(eventually marries) sister and her also political (former priest) husband, and the educated lawyer brother, who is engaged to the white girl from UCLA and is slightly embarrassed when his future in-laws visit EAST LA. All the time the Sanchez family is struggling with their lives Jose and Maria try to keep the family together. The movie trys to show the diversity that can occur in the lives of this mexican/american family and the culture associated with a typical family of that ERA it illustrates some of the hostile feelings felt by this familiy of their perceived prujudices against them by the establishment. The characters all go thru some transformations as they mature. James Olmos as the oldest son Paco and his narration is the movie. Esai Morales and Jimmy Smits turn in some brilliant performances, and my wife swoons at every scene with them both. They have mastered the 50'S/60'S Pachucos roles. The allstar cast of LA Latin Actors Enrique Castillo, Morales , Olmos are excellent as always and aptly supported by Mary Steenburgen and Scott Baculla as well as the other latino actors Lupe Ontiveros Jennifer Lopez and others. If you are of thAt ERA and ethinic background this movie is a must. Its a great family movie and just as awakening as AMERICAN ME AND ZOOT SUIT. In closing, being of that 50's era and my Mexican background I especially enjoyed the generous portions of the slang and music references throuhout the movie to recreate the way it was back then, and referencing an actual artist Rosie and the originals (Jeanette Jurado of Expose) was genius on the part of the director/Author Mr. Nava. Addios Vince Guillen from Burque."
Phillip P. Bazan | Whittier, CA | 02/20/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I first saw this movie in 1995 when it was first released in theaters. Nine years later, the movie still has the same effect as it did when I first saw it. Although my experiences and my family's experiences are not identical to the ones experienced by the Sanchez family, there are similarities, and I'm sure many other Mexican-Americans can identify with the small things that make this movie so good.What makes this movie so good is that the director, Gregory Nava, captures the nuances that many Mexican-Americans can relate to. 'Crossing the Bridges,' as Edward James Olmos explains, is something that the patriarch of the family must do when he goes to work on the other side of downtown LA. What's so strange is that many people continue to cross those bridges every day of their lives (literally and figuratively). Little things like this as well as Chucho's pride in having the best creased pants, the mother's passion for her 'novelas,' and Jimmy Smits' hard personality really give this movie a feeling of familiarity. I also like the fact that Memo goes to UCLA.The casting is good, and it's weird to see Jennifer Lopez in small roles like this before her rise to stardom. While the movie may not identically reflect the experiences of every Mexican-American, it will be hard not to see some parallels."
Gracias, Gregory Nava, para una pelicula maravillosa!
D. Pawl | Seattle | 11/05/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film is a true inspiration to me and gives us all a glimpse into the potential for positive representation of the Latino experience in the United States. The acclaimed director, producer and co-writer of this fantastic film, Mr. Gregory Nava, should've received an Academy Award for his masterful direction of this film, and I believe the actors in this film should've been acknowledged as well. At a time where we all need a voice and are searching for a means to express our experiences in the world, this film is such a blessing for us all to watch.
Through the eyes of three generations of the Sanchez family, a Mexican-American family based in East Los Angeles, we get a sense of their triumphs and struggles that are universal to the human condition, as well as the racism, discrimination, displacement and the struggle for bicultural identity that they all face together as the seasons change. Jose Sanchez, an ambitious young man from Michoacan walked across the border between Mexico and California when it was literally "a line in the dirt" and took up roots there to start a new life and raise a family. The young Jose is played by a beaming, soulful and spirited Jacob Vargas (an actor who has been made a fool of in numerous films since, in "token Latino roles" such as drug dealers and thugs--what a waste of phenomenal talent!), and is then by the legendary Mexican actor, Edward Lopez Rojas. His beautiful wife, Maria, who he first meets while clipping the hedges overlooking a mansion, while she is the nanny to a bunch of little children, is played by the young Jennifer Lopez, who is beautiful, glowing and full of life and courageous inner strength. The older Maria is played by a soulful and tender Jenny Gago. Other wonderful actors in this film include: Edward James Olmos (Paco Sanchez, their son and storyteller), Jimmy Smits (Jimmy Sanchez), Constance Marie (Antonia Sanchez), and Elpidia Carrillo (Isabel Sanchez, Jimmy's Salvadorean wife--a beautiful actress we have seen far too little of!).
The earthy cinematography in this film is comparable to the great murals and naturalistic portraits of Diego Rivera. The vibrant colors and wonderful flashbacks of Mexico make you feel like you are taking the journey with Jose Sanchez from Michoacan to Los Angeles. Beautiful, touching, warm, authentic and lovingly done. We need more films like this to encourage our youth, inspire the generation of today and reach people from all cultural backgrounds. Hopefully, with films like this, we can work toward bringing more projects about life, the experience of Latinos and bicultural identity to the foreground through film."
Powerful and Moving!!!
Mark Twain | 08/17/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a fine film that stresses the importance of culture and family while never losing its entertainment value. Following the same Mexican-American family from one generation to the next, the film crams a lot into a two hour running time, but the story is effective, well-told, and moving. While some of it was a bit far-fetched, especially Jennifer Lopez's opening bit as the younger version of Maria, the mother, crossing an angry river with her newborn son, the film does pick up and becomes a moving epic about a tough family and their struggles. The casting is terrific, each cast member very believable with their strong performances. I enjoyed this movie and it made me appreciate all my parents have done to keep our family together. This is a terrific slice-of-life made enjoyable by the realism and top-notch cast."