Edward James Olmos
|Time: 127 mins.|
Before this film was released, I, like most of American, had probably never heard of Selena. Her shocking murder was the first and only thing I knew about her life. After watching this movie, I wish I had experienced her music while she was still here. Her story is one of perseverance and triumph, despite her unfortunate fate. What she accomplished in her short life is quite amazing. This may not be the most accurate account of her time on Earth, but it sure is a compelling one. If she was anything like the young woman captured by Jennifer Lopez, the world was robbed of someone truly special. Though her fate is tragic, this film is anything but sad. It is a celebration of Selena's life and she lived it well.
The main reason you should actively seek this movie out is Jennifer Lopez. She is absolutely amazing. I can't say how good this movie would have been without her, but I'm glad we'll never have to know. She radiates honesty, sexiness and energy that's undeniable. She gives this powerful young woman a heart, mind and soul to go with her amazing talent. It can't have been easy to take on the role of such a well-loved, public figure. To not only learn to move and sing like her, but capture her spirit as well. Her performance is the crux of this film and Lopez makes it one of the best biopics ever produced. It's no wonder why her career went into overdrive after this movie.
The film begins with Selena and her brother and sister starting a band at their father's "urging." They basically had no choice. All these kids, around ages 8-11, wanted to do was be outside playing, but their dad had other plans. They were going to have a better life than he did growing up and they weren't going to waste their talent. After getting some classics under their belt (Over the Rainbow), they begin to play at their parents Mexican restaurant. People start to coming to the restaurant, not only for the food, but to hear Selena sing. Pretty soon they're playing local fairs and concerts, generating a name for themselves all across Texas. By the time she was sixteen, Selena was winning awards for her music and on her way to becoming the biggest star to ever emerge from the Tejano music scene.
Her success in her career is soon mirrored by success with love. She finds herself falling hopelessly for the band's guitarist, Christopher Perez (Jon Seda). Her father fires Chris once he learns of the romance. If Selena continues the affair, he'll cancel their upcoming tour. Chris has a disreputable past and Abraham is not about to let his daughter throw her life away on a no-good thug. Selena refuses to give in. She knows what they feel is real and elopes with him without her parents consent. She's an adult after all and believes they will come around once they get used to the idea. Unfortunately, a radio station discovers the secret and announces to the world that the couple is married. Selena's concern is unfounded. Abraham reconsiders his feelings once he sees Selena's love is true. The family welcomes him with open arms.
Her success continues to grow unabated. After years of creating her onstage outfits, Selena puts her design sense to wider use by starting her own clothing line and opening boutiques to sell her clothes. She and Chris buy a home and start to talk about having children. In 1994, two of her albums reach number 1 on the Billboard Latin chart and go double and quadruple platinum. She also receives a musician's highest honor a Grammy award for the album "Selena Live." Her enormous success in the Latin music scene gets her noticed by record executives who begin grooming her for a cross-over English album. This would have surely sent her star into the stratosphere. However, it wasn't meant to be. Her trusting nature, places her in a dangerous situation that results in her murder. Unlike so many other untimely deaths in the music world, this one is a true tragedy. A promising career cut short through greed and mistrust. At least, her music continues to live on.
If you are not a fan of Selena's or Latin music, you will be after watching this film. The music and onstage performances will have you tapping your toes and yearning to dance. If Lopez captured only half of Selena's true spirit and onstage energy, it's no wonder she was a huge star. The concert sequences are brilliantly filmed, creating a real sense of what it must have been like to be in the audience. Lopez and Seda have great chemistry, giving Selena and Chris's love an honesty and sweetness that touches the heart. Edward James Olmos is a little pushy in the beginning of the film, but it's clear that his unwavering love and unrelenting drive are the reasons behind his children's success and his families unity. Even if you're not a fan of biopics, this is one you should seek out. It's a well-acted, powerful story that makes you believe in the good life offers, despite the way it ends.