Jesus answered: ‘Will you lay down your life for me?’ - John 13:38

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Bella (2006) - Bellissima!

I have wanted to see Bella ever since I read about it in the AmericanPapist blog. But because it was an independent film, it was not released widely to the international audience. Yesterday, I finally managed to watch the movie.

Bella is beautiful. I mean that in every way possible. It is a touching story of two hurt, guilt-stricken people who, in one day, manage to heal each other's wounds. Eduardo Verastegui plays Jose, a soccer star-turned-chef who works in his older brother's restaurant, and Nina, a struggling young woman who recently found out that she is pregnant.

Tammy Blanchard's performance of Nina was perfectly spot-on. Beautiful, and yet haunted with grief; independent and yet vulnerable. She is pregnant and the father of the child wants her to "take care of it." When she shows up late for work for the second day in a row, Jose's brother fires her. She is completely broke and has no family to support her. All in all, her world is crumbling and she can only watch helplessly as the whole deck of cards collapses. She considers aborting her child because she is not ready, and she doesn't want to bring a child into this world without any love to surround it.

But then enters Jose, who is flawlessly played by Eduardo Verastegui. He himself carries a heavy guilt. As penance, he has shunned his former ways and now lives as a nondescript guy. But even with all of his inner self-recriminations, he reaches out to Nina and helps her in her time of need. He doesn't tell her a lot of things. Instead, he shows her that there is hope. He brings her to his family and shows her that there can be joy if she allows things to run their natural course. Most of all, he was willing to act. To actually do something instead of just spouting words.

I think what I love most about this movie is that it handles the issue of abortion masterfully. It doesn't simply gloss over the issue, but instead shows how painful the decision is for women who consider it. Their anguish, their fears are real. The film is not preachy. Jose never directly tells Nina what she is supposed to do. But he shows her that there are other options. And he doesn't stop there. In the end, he actually gives her the option.

The point of Bella is simply this. Life is beautiful; it must be preserved at all cost. There are many options to help deal with unwanted pregnancies, but the killing of an innocent life can NEVER be one of them.

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