'Spanglish' (2004) Review- Why the Film Was Good but Could've Been Better
I was made aware of Spanglish, a 2004 release, by an IMDB recommendation page. I was desperate and in need of something light but fulfilling, slice of life- as it's so often described in the anime community. Almost stuck with the gloomy thought that I've breezed through every substantial drama film there is, Spanglish was my last resort.
A non-English speaking mother takes up a job in an American household while trying to raise her only child alone. Spanglish has a 6.4 rating in IMDB, enough to be not good but not bad enough to completely pass up.
The plot of the movie is established from the first scene. Told from the viewpoint of the daughter- Christina Moreno(Shelbie Bruce), it focuses on her admiration of her mother as a woman with an immeasurable character strength-her hero in her words. Flor is a stubborn woman whose actions are motivated by her need to protect her daughter. Change states so that Christina could get a better education? Done. Get involved with Americans after refusing to do so for years if it means better income? Done. Every decision Flor makes is somehow connected to her daughter. However, this isn't the only characteristics that define Flor. She's quirky, sweet and would jump out of windows if it meant getting out of an uncomfortable situation.
The longer Flor works for this new family, the more she finds herself tangled in their own set of family problems. Consisting of a house with a drunk former celebrity of a grandma(Cloris Leachman), a confused egocentric woman(Téa Leoni), a husband and father who doesn't know how to navigate his family dynamics(Adam Sandler), and a daughter (Sarah Steele) that's constantly worried. And a son, but since the movie forgot he exists for the most part, so will we.
We see Flor change and adapt throughout the whole movie, starting a tentative romance with Adam Slander's character and a cold war of sorts with Tea's. It's interesting and funny, the way the characters make a mess of each other's lives. Though there are scenes that are largely fillers and not at all relevant to the plot.
In some ways, you could see through the film how the person who is closest to you doesn't understand you at all, because of clouded judgment from both sides, while you could easily form a deep bond with someone you have barely known for some time.
For the most part, the movie was on the right track, with how it introduced all the characters and their struggle, how desperately they wanted to fit in with each other but couldn't. What made me dissatisfied was the mindless ending. The ongoing romance for most of the movie ended in nothing at the end. Flor stays the woman who always makes the right decision and how could she ever come between a man and wife, even though said wife has already cheated on her husband. Which is still understandable. What boggled me was how they introduced a problem between Tea and Sarah's character, a relationship where the mother constantly put her daughter down and chose to not expand on it or lead it into some conclusion at all.
After watching the movie, I would have to agree with IMDBs judgment on this one. A good movie but not good enough.