The tagline for Bella is “One person can change your life forever.” But taking into account the film’s plot, the tagline should read more like, “One person can change your life forever, provided you select this person at random, abandon all common sense and let each irrational action lead you to the next.”
Bella tells the story of Jose (Verastegui) and Nina (Blanchard), a chef and waitress at a Mexican restaurant. One day, Nina shows up late to work because she decided it would be better to purchase and use a pregnancy test in the morning rather than after work, so the restaurant owner, Jose’s brother, fires her, prompting her to do her best weepy Julia Roberts impression for the duration of the film. In the meantime, Jose clearly has deep personal issues because he was clean cut in an opening flashback but now has long hair and an unkempt beard (the last things you want to find on your head chef, sans hairnet). And since it’s a common fact that men express severe angst with poor hygiene, we know Jose’s concealing a dark secret long before the enigmatic flashbacks of a young blond girl start to occur.
So inexplicably, Jose decides to walk out on his brother, leaving the kitchen in shambles, and spends an impromptu day with Nina in New York City, where the two share a series of “New York moments.” Nina watches a redneck argue with a Korean convenience-store owner and later describes flowers to a homeless, blind man, all the while saying things like, “Just a typical day in New York City.”
We get a handful of cute moments followed by a serious talk about family or abortion, and then the whole process repeats. The circumstances surrounding these conversations are completely random and interchangeable, and there’s rarely a sensible catalyst for why the pair go where they go or do what they do.
Eventually, they wind up at Jose’s parents’ house, where the film finally tells us what Jose’s dark secret is. You’ll likely have already figured it out. Then Jose and his whole family begin emphasizing in not-too-subtle ways the importance of family and insisting that Nina not get an abortion. Whatever happened to staying out of other people’s business? There’s something to be said for that. In fact, you should probably stay out of this film’s business.
Eduardo Verastegui, Tammy Blanchard, Manny Perez
Directed by Alejandro Gomez Monteverde