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Looks like we're sticking with the Spanish movies tackling religious themes. Though, to be fair, Holy Goalie (as it's known on Netflix, I couldn't be bothered to type out its longer, Spanish name) didn't really have as strong a religious message as this one. It was certainly an important part of the world those characters inhabited, but they never used it to preach or shove an unwanted agenda down your throat. This movie, on the other hand, religion is an important part of the story and the characters. It doesn't preach and it takes a more different takes a different approach to this subject than many movies would. Having said that, though, if you were to look at the descriptions of both movies and you were to attempt a guess as to which one I'd like better, given that I'm an atheist. Which one would you have guessed? If you picked the one with less religion as part of its themes, then you would be wrong. This is a vastly superior movie than Holy Goalie, pretty much in every respect. One of the problems with Holy Goalie was that I felt its humor was incredibly forced, there was no character development to speak of and there are certain scenes that are rushed through, or skipped entirely, for the sake of pacing. While this is meant to be a musical-dramedy, the humor isn't out of this world, by any stretch of the imagination. But it more than makes up for it with strong character development and a lot of heart. And, I believe I mentioned this in the Holy Goalie review, a comedy doesn't need to be funny (or hilarious) in order to be good. If a movie just has jokes and no character progression then, really, what you're watching is Saturday Night Live sketches. Not that there's anything wrong with that, since there are some tremendous SNL sketches, it's just that you're gonna need more than that in a feature-length film. Having said that, let's move on, shall we? I've never been to a summer camp. I've always been the sort of guy that values his time off from school, when I was a wee lad. I like to spend my time off resting and sleeping and just doing absolutely nothing that I didn't positively have to do. I just don't wanna wake up early during summer vacation if I can avoid it and going to a camp means waking up early. Ain't nobody got time for that. Now that I look back on it, however, I wonder if it would have been fun to go to one. Ah well, too late for regrets now, right? Anyway, if I had gone to a camp, going to a camp run by nuns would have been really low on the list. The only thing worse would be to go to a summer camp run by priests. Though, really, who in their right mind would even approve of that??? Regardless, the movie looks at two rebellious teens who are forced to stay back in camp after going out after 'closing hours' and coming back home drunk. These two are close friends who are hopeful to make it as artists, as a girl group. The thing is, however, that Maria is being haunted by visions of this man, whom she calls god, who sings Whitney Houston songs to her every night from outside her cabin. This man comes down some steps (quite literally a stairway to heaven) while wearing some really snazzy suits. So, obviously, Maria is having some issues trying to figure out the meaning behind it all and what exactly she should do now that she sees this man. To say that Maria is struggling would be putting it mildly, since she seems to be on the brink of a nervous breakdown. Susana, on the other hand, is also struggling with her own issues, coming to the realization that, maybe, she might play for a different team than she originally imagined. Milagros, one of the nicest nuns in the history of nundom, even though she's not real, is also having a crisis of faith considering the fact that, I feel, that she feels that she made the wrong decision in deciding to become a nun. She probably felt that it was the right thing for her at the age she made the decision to, which apparently was very young if some lines are to be believed, and, at her current age, it's obviously not the best choice for her. That's the thing, sometimes people make decisions feeling that it's the best thing for them when, in the long run, it ends up being the opposite. Perhaps saying that it's the worst thing for them is a bit of hyperbole, but it's not where they're meant to be. So, obviously, the film looks at these three women, who are at a crossroads in their life where they don't know what their next step is gonna be or where it's gonna take them. And, honestly, while there's nothing here that, really, you haven't seen before, I really liked the approach to the story. The writing is really strong and the acting is top-notch all around. I think Belen Cuesta steals the show as Milagros. Susana and Maria are well-written and fully-formed characters. Anna Castillo and Macarena Garcia (Susana and Maria respectively) do a great job with their characters, but, again, Milagros is the heart and soul that holds the movie together. Also, while the movie calls itself a musical-comedy, there's not really that many musical numbers. I mean, there are a few and they do serve the story, but it wasn't off-putting like it would have been in, say, West Side Story. The music helps move the narrative forward. Another thing is the fact that, while the movie has a positive portrayal of religion, it's not a movie that chooses to preach. I don't have one problem with a movie being positive about religion, but don't preach to me. Don't talk down to me. This movie is more about finding the right path for you. For some of you that may be embracing religion to the fullest, like Maria. For others it might be deciding to leave the church because you are unhappy and feel like you've repressed too many unexplored emotions, like Milagros. And, lastly, for some it's about realizing that you're a lesbian and in love with Milagros, like Susana. It's all about making the best decision for yourself and yourself alone. That's obviously the movie is trying to send and it does so effectively. This is certainly a crowd-pleaser down to its very core, but that doesn't mean that it's without strong characters or a narrative. While this isn't perfect, I thought this was a damn good movie and, definitely, an easy recommendation. Can't complain in the slightest.
Inusual e ingenioso. Se salva por el musical del final.
I was not expecting to love this movie, the story is very different, and now I believe that God is a cool dude that loves music like everyone else!
It can be lifechanging for determinate people, it's a really well made movie, just a magnificent combination of fun, musical, and breathtaking moments. MUST SEE.