I never thought it would actually happen, but I got paid to go watch a movie. Along with a few other members from the media center, I had the privilege of attending an advance press screening of the movie Bella, which is set to be released in theaters on October 26. I had heard about the film several months ago and was interested in seeing it, since it is one of the first blatantly pro-life movies (if not the first) to garner serious attention in Hollywood. It has won several awards, including the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival. Anyway, watching an advance screening is really fun: you get in for free, it’s semi private (which means finding a good seat is less difficult), and there are usually special guests involved (in this case, one of the film’s producers and the main actor, who shared his testimony after the showing).
My main concern with the film (which, admittedly, is a big one) is that the filmmakers don’t let the audience know where the story is headed. The movie feels more like a “day in the life of” snapshot than a narrative with a clearly defined story arc. Certain scenes and sequences are definitely well executed, but I kept wondering, “What’s the point? Where are we going with all this?” And a proposed trip to a certain geographical location (made by one of the main characters), which is made to sound as though it will be a vital element of the plot, takes a meandering detour before finally revealing that it really has no dramatic weight whatsoever.
What saves the movie is the ending. And what an ending it is! I can’t explain it in any detail because it will give away too much. There is no huge twist or anything—just a solid presentation of some dramatically heavy material. Thankfully, it doesn’t delve into the realm of unrealistic and sentimental cheesiness (a trap that snared Facing the Giants), but it is nonetheless heartwarming. In fact, “heartwarming” is too soft a word to describe the emotional impact. Here’s a better description: You’ll bawl your eyes out.
So if you get a chance to see the film, I’d recommend doing so—if for no other reason than to enjoy the stunningly poignant conclusion.
UPDATE: After more thought, I’ve come to the conclusion that my above review is a little too positive. I was trying to be nice because of the movie’s (pitifully few) high points. Any other film of this caliber would have gotten a much worse review. For more insight into the film’s artistic demerits, check out this link.