Film review: ‘Bless Me, Ultima’

Take our advice: Read the book, don’t bother with the screen version of Bless Me, Ultima.

The Details

Bless Me, Ultima
Two and a half stars
Luke Ganalon, Miriam Colon, Dolores Heredia
Directed by Carl Franklin
Rated PG-13, opens Friday
Beyond the Weekly
Official Movie Site
IMDb: Bless Me, Ultima
Rotten Tomatoes: Bless Me, Ultima

Rudolfo Anaya’s 1972 novel Bless Me, Ultima is considered a landmark of Chicano literature and is one of the most widely read books in American schools, but whatever made it so beloved and enduring doesn’t come across in Carl Franklin’s bland film adaptation. Set in rural New Mexico in 1944, Bless Me is a coming-of-age story about a young Mexican-American boy (Luke Ganalon) who bonds with the title character (Miriam Colon), a traditional healer who comes to live with his family. Neither the period detail nor the magical realism (Ultima is a mystic who communes with nature) comes through particularly strongly, and the performances, especially from Ganalon, are flat and uninspired. Instead of a heartfelt exploration of a vibrant part of American culture, Bless Me comes off like a dull TV movie. The inevitable in-class showings are going to be prime days for students to doze off.


Josh Bell

Josh Bell is the film editor for Las Vegas Weekly, where he's been writing movie and TV reviews since 2002. ...

Get more Josh Bell

Previous Discussion:

  • This year’s event features another packed lineup of short films, with more than 120 selections spread over 20-plus thematic programs and four days.

  • The three-day event—which will showcase more than 50 short films, along with one feature—kicks off with a free night of films at Backstage Bar and ...

  • Returning to the Palms, LVFF 2018 offers talked-about indie films shorts programs, animation, student films, parties and more.

  • Get More Film Stories
Top of Story