Back on the block in the East Bay and right away went to see a screening of the new movie “La Mission.” Was I ever glad I did. It is extraordinary. A film of Now, a film for us, for the emerging consciousness of what needs to happen in the heart and conscience for humanity to evolve beyond violence. It is also a film about love in the same way “Casablanca” is a film about love: the true Big Love that recognizes we humans are small and the problems gigantic. But notes also that humans are a feisty lot and up to the challenge if given half a chance. Furthermore, it is exquisitely beautiful, displaying in almost every shot the surprising and vibrant colors of Mexico and points even further South. The soundtrack is a soul feast. The cars, high art.
And who is responsible for all this joy? The Bratt brothers, who used to be brats when they were growing up, one has heard. Peter and Benjamin Bratt. Peter as writer-director, and Benjamin, co-producer with Peter, and also starring as a bus driver named Che. (We knew something good was going to happen right there). And it does. Benjamin Bratt as Che models all the anger, rage, hate and homophobia that could possibly live under the placid courteousness of many people we meet. The woman he falls in love with carries all the strong boundaries one is likely to accrue in a lifetime of dealing with faithless and brutal mankind. His son, all the passionate honesty of someone coming to understand the meaning of his choices, and deciding to defend his own choice of whom to love, come what may. There is of course a tia and tio, aunt and uncle, for the younger lover to run off to, as is proper. They are just the couple who, at the end of your running away, you hope will open the door.
Like “Follow Me Home,” another amazing film, also written and directed by Peter Bratt, “La Mission” will be a classic. It will be around, like “Casablanca”, and like another more recent film I also love, “Something New” (which makes me think of yet another film I think is wonderful: “The Best Man”) for a long time, if we in fact have a long time.
Lucky for us, the artist doesn’t care about time; who knows how long it took the Bratt brothers to make this graceful offering? The artist cares about beauty, soul, bringing the light; the artist cares about us.
All the stars. Not five or six or ten.
© 2009 Alice Walker