Quinceanera is the story of a young Latina and her quinceanera. The quinceanera is the celebration of a girl's 15th birthday within several different Latino cultures. It is a celebration of a girl becoming a women, in many ways it reminds me of a Bar/ Bat Mitzvah for Jewish children although the age of 15 does seem to make more sense than 13 for us Jews. The story surrounds the impending quinceanera of Magdalena. In addition to the up coming life cycle event, Magdalena is also pregnant, which she does not know for much of the time, but does have a huge impact on the film and her life. When her father finds out Magdalena is pregnant, he kicks her out of the house and she goes to live with her 85 year-old uncle where she joins her cousin who has been kicked out of his parents house. The story now follows Magdalena and her uncle and cousin in their house and her struggles with being a 14 year-old teenage mother. There are never any question of abortion or of adoption, it is taken for granted that she will have the child. The father of the baby is willing to be there and does seem to love Magdalena, but when his parents find out that he is the father to Magdalena's child, he is sent away to live with other relatives as he is supposed to have a future.
The movie is very well written and directed. Emily Rios who plays Magalena does a superb job as a 14 year old who is struggling with pregnancy and her father and also wanting to be able to not have this baby stop her from accomplishing her dreams. The film switches back and forth constantly throughout the film between subtitled Spanish and English, which took me a few times to get used to. I have been around children who are bilingual and watched them switch back and forth quickly between languages, but having to read subtitles and then not having subtitles as the characters were speaking English took some switching in the brain. The film does a wonderful job of giving an insight into the culture of this family and the evolving culture of the Latino Americans who now live here. We see a tradition that was at one time much more religious turned into a giant party where some of the tradition and religion have begun to fade away, another similarity between the Bar Mitzvah and the Quinceanera. This film echos real life in that even at the end, things are not tied up. We are not sure what is to happen with the baby and life will still continue on after movie is over. There is no total conclusion to the film, but this episode of the Quinceanera in Magdalena's life has now been concluded. This is a wonderful film that is both funny and dramatic at the same time without being overly dismissive of the Latino culture and yet not overly sappy either. There is no violence, not much swearing and no sex in this film, so don't be scared off by the "R" rating. There are a few short scenes of one character smoking marijuana and some brief and really general discussion of sex, but nothing that deserves an "R" rating in my opinion.