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127 min | 35mm

Roger Ebert

“Selena"” brings freshness and also heart to the life story that a little girl from body Christi, Texas, that had large dreams and also was lucky enough to establish almost every one of them before her life was reduced short. Selena Quintanilla to be poised to come to be the first female singer to cross end from Spanish to English sectors when she was shot dead on in march 31, 1995.

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By the moment she died, the English-speaking Selena (Jennifer Lopez) had conquered the Spanish charts, overcame Mexican-American pop music and also even won accept in Mexico, regardless of her shaky Spanish and also an American accent. She’d had No. 1 hits, won a Grammy and also was about to walk on tour to encourage her very first English album. “Everybody’s gonna wonder exactly how I learned English so fast,” she joked. Climate it all finished when an employee shot she in an dispute over theft.

“Selena,” written and also directed by Gregory Nava (“El Norte,” “My Family”), areas her firmly within a close, love family. Native the an extremely beginning, “Selena y Los Dinos” to be a family act, guided by her father, Abraham (Edward James Olmos), and including sisters Susie (Jackie Guerra) on drums and brother Abie (Jacob Vargas) ~ above guitar. Castle toured county fairs and also played school dances, and Abraham also opened a restaurant just so that could book his youngsters as the entertain (Selena’s huge crowd-pleaser was “Over the Rainbow”). The was sluggish going at first, and when Abraham insisted Selena start singing in Spanish, the young teens rebelled: “I don"t want to find out to song in Spanish! i don’t even *like* Spanish music. Ns like Donna Summer.” Abraham tells her she has to sing indigenous the inside, from what she is, and she is Mexican-American, between two worlds, and that’s tough: “The americans jump anywhere us since we nothing speak perfect English, and then the mexican jump everywhere us due to the fact that we don’t speak perfect Spanish.” therefore Selena learns from she father to sing Spanish and eventually come speak it, and also becomes a regional star that Tejano music—the unique South Texas mix that created in the at an early stage 1900s as soon as Mexican bands blended in the accordion music of their Czech and also Polish neighbors.

The movie opens with Selena to sing “I will Survive” to a packed house in the Houston Astrodome, and also then flashes back to the early life of her father, who created a absent ‘n’ roll team named “The Dinos.” like his daughter many years later, he found himself caught in between two worlds: Anglo clubs didn’t want Chicano bands, and Mexican clubs want Spanish dance music. ~ one appearance ends in a fight, a cop asks Abraham, “What’d y’all do?” he answers, “We sang ‘We belong Together.’” Abraham’s band fails, but he start again, bringing residence secondhand instruments to start a household group, regardless of the doubts of his wife, Marcella (Constance Marie). In one of the movie’s most charming scenes, the household has struggle bottom; Abraham guarantees Selena sooner or later she’ll be a large star “and go to Disneyland.” climate Marcella hears a familiar song ~ above the radio, and also teaches her daughter to run to it, providing her the trademark of perpetual movement onstage.

Young Selena is played by Becky Lee Meza, who has actually a huge smile and also a most energy. The teenage and also adult Selena is played by Lopez in a star-making performance. After her strong work together the passionate lover of Jack Nicholson in “Blood and also Wine,” below she create a totally different performance, as a loyal Quintanilla that does many of her cultivation up ~ above a tourism bus with her dad at the wheel.

She’s very close come Susie and Abie, and also finds a reliable confidant in she mother, however when a talented young guitarist named Chris Perez (Jon Seda) joins the band and she drops in love with him, yes trouble. “This stops right now!” Abraham thunders, shooting the kid. However it’s true love, well-written and also acted here, and also after Selena and also Chris elope, the family accepts him. Olmos’ scene with his daughter when she brings her husband house is among the film’s many touching.

The biographical scenes are intercut with a most music; Selena’s initial recordings room used, through Lopez lip-synching and doing a convincing task of gift Selena onstage; she has actually the star presence to look convincing in front of 100,000 pan in Monterrey, Mexico. Some of the songs build real power, yet others room undercut, i think, through unnecessary intuitive gimmicks favor Woodstock-style double and triple break-up screens, and cutaways to the moon, roses and also other symbols. In one montage so late in the movie, the exact same song is shown being performed at several concerts, to showcase the plenty of different costumes Selena designed because that herself; the costumes come across, yet the power is lost in the cutting. As soon as Lopez (and Selena) room left alone to just sing, the outcomes are electrifying.

“Selena” is clever in not letting the singer’s death conquer the story of she life. We accomplish her killer, Yolanda Salvidar (Lupe Ontiveros), virtually obliquely, when she’s introduced as the manager the Selena’s brand-new boutique and the former president that her pan club. Soon there’s a discrepancy over missing money, and then the shooting, which the movie faces only v its aftermath.

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“Selena” succeeds, through Lopez’s performance, in evoking the magic of a sweet and talented young woman. And, favor Nava’s “My Family,” the insightful in illustrating Mexican-American society as a rich resource with its own flavor and character. That ironic that the many successful contemporary Latina singer can once have had a talk through her dad wherein he sighed, “You prefer Donna Summer, I like doo-wop.” but he also said, “You gotta be that you are.” She was.