After the success of the Passion of the Christ, there was new interest in the Christian market. Hollywood still wasn't sure how to handle this potential market. Some Christian films had come out, but most weren't good enough to show that this was a viable market. In 2005, I attended the Screenwriting Expo presentation on "The Christian Market." An experienced Hollywood Producer/Writer spoke about how Hollywood wasn't ready for overly Christian films. To break in, Christian filmmakers needed to produce films with Christian morals but not preach at the audience. I've been known to get a little preachy myself -- preaching that the theme or lesson should come out of the action. The consequence of the character's action proves the theme.
This Fall, two movies came out that took this concept to heart: "Bella," and, "Lars and the Real Girl." (Really!) The characters did not preach but demonstrated Christian values through their actions.
I went to Bella because it won the People's Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival and sounded like an inspiring independent film to review for Reel Inspiration. I didn't even realize until I was well into it, that it was a Christian film. (It becomes clear that the main character is Christian when he prays silently before a meal.) When a waitress is fired from her job for being late, the owner's brother chases after her to see if she is alright. All around them is the hustle and bustle of New York, people busy making another dollar. The film seems to say that there are more important things than making money -- like taking care of each other. This guy takes the day off to comfort and listen to this woman without judging her. He gains her trust. This is a new kind of love story -- where people show love through acts of kindness.
This heartfelt film is beautifully acted and has some important themes. The only problem I had was that it took a while to get going probably because the conflict is internal. There's not a lot of conflict in sympathetic listening. I'm not a big fan of flashbacks and there's a few. It may seem a little talky to some people - reminiscent of Before Sunrise.
"Bella," is the true love story that shows how one day in New York City changed three people's lives forever. Jose, an international soccer star (Eduardo Verastegui) is on his way to sign a multi-million dollar contract when a series of events unfold that bring his career to an abrupt end. He retreats from the world. A waitress (Tammy Blanchard) struggling to make it in New York City, discovers something she's unprepared for. In one irreversible moment, their lives are turned upside down...until a single gesture of kindness brings them both together, turning an ordinary day into a unforgettable experience.