It is only once in a very great while that a movie comes along that is so breathtaking, so poignantly beautiful, and so simplistically deep, that my husband and I forget to hold hands and don’t say a word until the credits begin to roll. A movie that so captures the heart and soul that a quiet sort of enchantment comes over our living room as the movie fills the TV screen. A movie so full of human pain and beauty, my husband and I both respond with tears. Tears that come because we have been invited to enter a story and we have entered it fully and completely.
This was the case with Bella.
Bella, the #1 top-rated film of 2007, winner of the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival, and winner of Best Picture and Best Actor at the 2008 Movie Guide Awards, is a movie that is captivating and rich with meaning.
Bella begins in an upbeat tone but takes a sudden turn as it introduces two people who, other than being co-workers in the same restaurant, are strangers to each other. He is a chef at his brother’s restaurant, wrestling with the loss of a professional soccer career, and she is a waitress who has had her world turned upside down by recent events. As two people wrestling with completely different circumstances but very similar pain, they are inexplicably drawn together. As the movie unfolds, their connection brings about a day of friendship, memories, and healing, resulting in life-altering decisions.
Part of the beauty of Bella is its insistence on being simple and complex all at once. The movie rotates between past and present in such a way that the viewer feels as if they are getting pieces to a jigsaw puzzle that must be put into place before the larger picture can be seen. Unlike most movies that encompass weeks and even months, this movie focuses on two main days – a day in the past and a day in the present. Both days are surprisingly and inexplicably connected to each other and will have a deep impact on a day in the future. They are days in which hearts will be forever changed – changed by tragedy, changed by kindness, and changed by friendship.
A decision needs to be made. A heart needs to be healed. The decision that is made has the potential to either wound or heal.
Bella (2006) Trailer
Bella is a story of unexpected redemption. It is a narrative of pure friendship, transparent and authentic in the raw emotions shared between two hurting people. It is a story of innocence and naiveté, beauty and horror. It is a story of life as it is for so many of us.
My husband and I loved the fact that the characters in this move were real people. The characters had identities we could relate to and the lives they lived were lives that most of the rest of us live as well.
It was also incredibly refreshing to watch a move that did not contain one sexual innuendo, one swear word, and not even one make-out scene. Had the creators of Bella followed the same format the rest of Hollywood uses, they would have used the scenario that the movie was built around to set the viewers up for a passionate scene between the two main characters in the movie. What made it so refreshingly real is that they didn’t. They chose to focus on simple friendship instead – friendship and life, life and the choices that drive life, choices that impact us and change us forever.
Bella does carry a PG-13 rating with it, due to a theme of mature content. However, this content is dealt with in an appropriate manner and is not dramatized and butchered. It is instead portrayed in a way that shows how it would be possibly dealt with in real life. This theme revolves around a decision that must be made over an unplanned pregnancy with an unwed mother who has no support system. I felt this topic was so appropriately and realistically portrayed in the movie, I would not hesitate to show the movie to a group of teenagers for the express purpose of generating dialogue about the issue of unplanned pregnancies.
Bella was a breath of fresh air. Not only was it a movie that I was able to watch without cringing and wondering if I should turn it off, I was also deeply touched by it, and three days later I find myself still impacted and even pondering what I saw. Some movies entertain us, others profoundly touch us. Bella fits the latter category.