I just watched “Bella” the other night for the first time. Yeah, I know, it came out in 2007, so I’m severely behind on this one, but at least I finally saw it, right?
When I popped in the DVD and settled into my saucer chair, the prevailing thought in my head was, “I know I’m going to like this movie.” Since it won the People’s Choice award at the Toronto International Film Festival, fans haven’t stopped singing its praises, especially in religious and pro-life circles.
Here’s a synopsis to keep in mind. The leading lady, Nina, is late to work because she was out buying a pregnancy test, only to be faced with that little blue plus sign and 9 months worth of worry. On top of that, she gets fired for being late, so she’s at a total loss. However, Jose, the chef at the restaurant where she worked, tries to show her how precious life is, and why she shouldn’t abort the baby. He also reveals a part of his past, which included being a soccer star turned jailbird because he killed a little girl with his car. In the end, Nina gives her baby to Jose when she is born, then comes back 3 years later, when her life is more stable, to start taking care of Bella.
As I watched the credits roll, my thoughts changed from “I know I’m going to like this movie” to “Um … remind me why I wanted to watch this movie again?”
I know “Bella,” directed by Alejandro Gomez Monteverdew, was supposed to be a deep, thought-provoking film about the preciousness of life. It succeeded. However, I had a few problems with it that I wanted to hash out.
I consider myself to be pro-life. I think that abortion is wrong, and that every person should have the right to live. I feel that “Bella” conveyed the sanctity of life very well. However, it missed the mark when it came to family.
The majority of pro-lifers would agree that the ideal family situation includes a mother and father who are married. This provides a stable home life for any children who are brought into the family, and it is also in step with the pattern that God laid down in the Bible.
That being said, I have to stop and wonder why so many pro-life advocates were applauding this movie when Nina gave her baby to a single man to raise while she went off to straighten up her life. Why are we condoning this kind of behavior? Wouldn’t giving the baby to a couple who can’t conceive children on their own be the selfless thing to do?
I know that the point of the movie was to redeem Nina from her shoddy lifestyle and to give Jose another chance (with Bella) after he killed the little girl with his car, but to me, this seems like a very shaky solution, especially since Nina and Jose aren’t married. This leads to my next point.
Jose is a supportive friend throughout Nina’s pregnancy. He helps her get a new job, takes her to his family home (where his family accepts her warmly), is a shoulder to cry on, and holds her when she needs his support. As I watched him interact with her, I had to wonder if he had feelings for her. The way he treated her sure indicated some level of love beyond friendship.
However, Nina seems oblivious to this fact. She treats him as a friend, but takes all the benefits of the relationship that isn’t there. They spill their hearts out to each other, share secrets, and eventually share Bella. It was hard for me to watch her interact with him, because she uses him for emotional support, but expects him to stay in the friend zone. Although this is a realistic portrayal of how women are treating men these days, it is a negative message in an otherwise inspiring movie.
It just seems weird to me that people who are pro-life and pro-family are supporting a movie that endorses an unmarried, “just friends” couple who take care of the same child. I felt that this wasn’t an acceptable solution to the problem presented in the film, and that if the director really wanted to make a good, gripping movie about the sanctity of life, he would have tackled the issue of open adoption, as well.
The movie did have some redeeming qualities, however. The cinematography was excellent, the casting was perfect (although Nina grated on my nerves at some points), and the music was gorgeous. These all wove together beautifully, and “Bella” definitely deserved the multiple awards that it received. All that was lacking was a more refined and thought-through plot. Oh well. Better luck next time, Alejandro.
~ no holds barred ~