Touched By “Bella”

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Here, Caroline Alexa McBride's beautiful experience with Bella: "When the movie ended, we were two friends, holding hands while bonding with a theater full of strangers through our shared tears of joy. We were breathless, speechless, moved, touched and we appreciated life so much more than two hours before."

This Film’s Beauty Reaches Beyond it's Title

Movies are often a source of frustration and distress in my all too hectic life. As a notoriously impatient redhead, I have a history of storming out of Hollywood films shortly after the opening credits because they are demeaning and seething in vulgarity. There are better ways to spend valuable and limited free time than to watch the latest flick-at least that was my belief until the film “Bella” miraculously appeared and shook the movie Grinch out of me.

It literally took an act of divine intervention to motivate me to see the film. I first read about “Bella” in a news publication which mentioned that the lead actor, Eduardo Verastegui, prepared to abandon his life as a superstar Latin heartthrob to become a missionary in Brazil when a priest interceded and told him that his “mission” is in Hollywood. Soon after, he was befriended by Leo Severino who noticed him praying at my church in Beverly Hills. Severino had just formed a film company with award winning film maker Alejandro Monteverde, when he had a chance meeting with the “Brad Pitt of Latin America” in the rectory parking lot. The men collaborated and created “Bella,” a true expression of life’s beauty.

While the back story of the film struck me as endearing, I did not make time to run to the theater. I have planes to catch and meetings to attend and usually my relaxation time is best spent catching up with friends or flipping through magazines. Feeling that my life is too hectic and I just could not make time to see it, I decided to buy a few tickets to support the film next time I passed by a theater.

However, the guilt of knowing the story of how this film came to be nagged at me until I finally surrendered one chilly November Saturday afternoon and convinced a friend to catch the matinee on 62nd and Broadway. When we entered the theater, we were two single professional women, commiserating about work and men, happy to be out of the cold noisy street and not too concerned about the film.

When the movie ended, we were two friends, holding hands while bonding with a theater full of strangers through our shared tears of joy. We were breathless, speechless, moved, touched and we appreciated life so much more than two hours before.

Bella Poster

click image to enlarge and view poster

“Bella” is the story of a troubled woman and the compassion she finds from an unexpected source, a quiet co-worker suffering from his own life altering tragedy. The movie touches upon themes that all women can relate to: unexpected pregnancy scares, job stress, loneliness, despair and helplessness. Sometimes we are so overwhelmed by pressure, we forget that there are solutions and sincere people who will help. “Relying on the kindness of strangers” is a reality, not just an old cliché.

The superb acting in the film delivered the message straight to my heart. The male lead, Verastegui, intently expresses every emotion from despair to hope through his mesmerizing eyes. Tammy Blanchard melts directly into character, when she weeps you want to embrace and console her. Ali Landry has a small but vital role in the film. Her pain-filled wailing sent chills down my spine. New York City provides the background haze, while the actors in “Bella” create a realistic sense of the complications that exist within all our lives, and the hope that will save us if we stop for a minute to open our eyes.

Inspired by a true story, “Bella” has won coveted awards including the People’s Choice Award at Toronto’s International Film Festival and the Legacy Award from the Smithsonian Institute. The film has been honored by the White House and Mexican Embassy for positively contributing to the arts. Its grassroots following enabled “Bella” to surpass box office expectations and generate more revenue per screen than recent high budget Hollywood films like “Michael Clayton” and “Saw 4.”

I once believed that time in New York was a precious commodity not to be wasted in a movie theater, but then I was lured in by “Bella” and reminded that life really is beautiful. Now I have faith there are members of the Hollywood community with pure hearts and the ability to depict a meaningful story through the art of film. Time is scarce, which is why we ought to spend our time exploring the natural gifts we have been blessed with instead of letting work, bad relationships, and other sources of stress consume us. Watching “Bella” will touch your soul and remind you what life truly should be about.
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