Bless Me, Ultima Movie Reviews
User reviews on Bless Me, Ultima
This is a gorgeous and devastating movie that everyone should see. It's set during WWII and it shows how far the nation has moved in so many respects. It is told from the perspective of a young Latino boy named Antonio who lives in a village in New Mexico. His village is full of religious and superstitious types that are constantly engaged in a silly battle between good and evil. The boy is raised to think that all religious Catholics are good and everyone else is not, which is of course nonsense. He starts to question what he has been taught when a strange old woman called Ultima (which means "the last") moves into his house as she prepares to die. She is kind of a spirit, shaman, and witch all rolled into one. The boy learns much from her after they strike up an unexpected relationship. I would say that this is a buddy movie, but told in a strange and beautiful variation.
As a young latino boy I was often confronted with things about my culture that I found bizarre and even offensive. For example, how could so many of my relatives defend the Catholic Church in the wake of its massive sex abuse scandal? The answer, it seems, was within m grasp because this movie says as much in the story of a young Latino boy named Antonio who is raised in a small shanty town in New Mexico. His life is turned upside down when an old woman named Ultima comes to live with his family. He was delivered by her when he was born so they are already connected. She shows up in his life and shows him that what he has been taught is actually false and that he has the answers he needs are already in him. The movie is actually really sweet even when it's disturbing and it is beautifully photographed. It should become a cult classic for fans of indie movies.
Bless Me, Ultima is the best movie opening this weekend, which naturally means that it’s only viewable in very, very limited release (I’m talking to you, New York and California denizens). It is the coming-of-age story of a young man who questions everything that he is told, especially when it comes to the things most children simply accept as being true from the time they first gain cognition: God, religion, the world, and their place within it.
Antonio is a young boy growing up in the outskirts of New Mexico. He doesn’t know much about the world beyond the rural surroundings he calls home. But then one day, an elderly folk healer named Ultima comes to spend her final days with his family. She is not just the woman who helped deliver him into this world, she is also the mysterious figure who understands things that Antonio is fascinated and stymied by. While her life is ending, his is only beginning because of her mere presence.
The others in the town fear and hate Ultima. To many, she is a witch who should be chastised and chased away. The movie, like the book upon which is based, is blatantly anti-establishment (some would say anti-Catholic), which means that it will make many a viewer uncomfortable. But then that is the whole point of this exercise anyway: to show that the reclaiming of the self begins with the planting of doubt – and whether that doubt is the result of something internal or someone outside – there is no peace until one comes to terms with those questions.
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