Ethics & Religion
A Column by Michael J. McManus


For Current Column
See the Home Page


About the


Search this


Column Archives
List of all columns 









For 2003 and earlier
only the title is listed.
Use the Search Function
to find the article.








About The


to Mike

October 31, 2007
Column #1,366
BELLA - Unforgettable, Deeply Moving Film
by Mike McManus

BELLA is an unforgettable, deeply moving film about the relationship of two losers: Jose, the chef in his brother's Mexican restaurant and Nina, a waitress fired by his brother for being late.

Jose had been a soccer star, until he accidently killed a child who dashed in front of his car.  After serving four years in prison for manslaughter, the ex-con found work as a chef for his brother. He grew a thick heavy beard, hiding his handsome face.

When Nina was fired, Jose ran after her, and learned she was pregnant. He took the day off to be with her, though they had no previous relationship. That day changed their lives.  This touching movie won the Audience Award as the best film of the Toronto Film Festival.

At a deeper level, the movie is about the decision of what to do about an unwed pregnancy - which happens to 2.7 million American women annually.

"Have you considered adoption?" Jose asks.  It is the sort of loving question which gets asked far too rarely in our culture.

Nina replies, "No, I could not carry something in my body for nine months and then give it to a stranger." That's the reason only 22,000 infants are adopted in America out of 1.5 million out-of-wedlock births. Surely, the most loving decision hundreds of thousands of those mothers could make is to relinquish the child to a married couple longing,.but unable to bear children.

"Let's go the beach," Jose says. "I live near the beach." As they travel, Nina tells him, "The only person I would give it to is you. Right now, you are the only person I trust."

Suddenly we see them in an abortion clinic. He whispers something in her ear. She turns to him with a stunned look, then goes to the doctor. She returns teary-eyed, but viewers are uncertain what happened. Nationally, 1.2 million babies are aborted annually.

Jose and Nina visit his family's home near the beach.  It is a big, joyous family, with lots of bantering and laughing around a sumptuous meal including a younger brother and his fiancée
At one point during dinner, Jose's mother confesses to Nina, "I don't usually talk about it, but early in our marriage we could not have children. We tried everything we could."

"Mom, don't talk about that around children!" her youngest son protests

But then his cousin in Puerto Rico had a child, and we adopted this darling boy," Manny, the older brother, the up-tight restaurant owner. Their mother reflects, "I think the only difference between my three sons is the way Manny came to us."

I won't reveal BELLA's surprising conclusion.

"This film is a work of art," said Tony Bennett in presenting an award at its opening. "A work of art is very rare...lasts forever and stays in the hearts of everybody forever that sees it."

Surprisingly in its first weekend, BELLA grossed an amazing $1.3 million despite a  limited release on just 165 screens (versus 3,000- 4,000 for most Hollywood blockbusters). Why? Christians heard about the film and promoted it, giving BELLA the highest per screen average in America last Sunday.

Jose is portrayed by Eduardo Verastegui, a Mexican with a Cinderella story. The son of a sugar cane worker in Mexico, he achieved early success as a teenage recording artist.  His good looks and acting ability led to starring in five popular TV soaps and a film, propelliing him to the precipice of international stardom, when he converted to Christianity.

His faith persuaded him to refuse many roles as Latin lovers and halt personal promiscuity. "I was tired of the vanity, the ego.  I was not using my talents to make a difference," he said. "I wanted to create films that are hopeful, beautiful and uplifting - not showing darkness, but a light in the darkness."

He studied English for a year, hoping to break into Hollywood.  However, idealism has its price. At one point, Eduardo was worried about paying rent.  That's when he read the BELLA script, and with a Mexican film director fresh out of school, raised money for the low budget film which might win an Academy Award.

Tom Atwood, President of the National Council for Adoption, asserts, "It's the best movie ever in making and presenting the adoption option as a positive option.  Young people should see this movie and anyone who has contact with them - parents, counselors, ministers, coaches, teachers, nurses and doctors."

It is a film about love - not romance but compassion.

  Since 1981...
2000+ Columns
  September 23, 2020: Column 2041: Time To End Priestly Celibacy
  Recent Columns
  The Importance of Grandparents
  Couple Bible Study
  The Seven Last Words
  Americans Are Losing Faith
  Overcoming Porn Addiction
  The Devastation of Pornography
  Marriages Are Falling - But Improving
  Divorce Rates Are Falling
  Cohabitation: the Enemy of Marriage
  America's Belief in God Plunges
  How To Reduce Suicide
  How to Help Your Marriage Grow
  How To Stop Drug Addiction
  Love Your Spouse
  Reform No Fault Divorce
  Cut Federal Funds for Planned Parenthood
  Saving Marriages In Crisis
  The Horror of Soaring Suicides
  Make Adoption More Appealing
  Want a Successful Marriage?
  Why Go To Marriage Encounter
  Where Are the Fathers?
  The Addictive Nature of Pornography
  Abortion Becoming Illegal
  Protecting Girls from Suicide
  The Worst Valentine: Cohabitation
  Pornography: A Public Health Hazard
  Sextortion Kills Teens
  Cohabitation: A Risky Business
  Recent Searches
  gun control, euthanasia, cohabitation, sexting, sextortion, alcoholism, prayer, guns, same sex marriage, abortion, depression, islam, divorce, polygamy, religious liberty, health care, pornography, teen sex, abortion and infanticide, Roe+v+Wade, supreme court, marriage, movies, violence, celibacy, living+together, cohabitation, ethics+and+religion, pornography, adultery, divorce, saving+marriages
©2020 Michael J. McManus syndicated columnist  /
Ethics & Religion at
82 Tuckaway Lane, Kilmarnock, VA 22482 / 804-435-5192
President & Co-Chair Marriage Savers /
Site Sponsored by