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65

Generally favorable reviews - based on 17 Critics What's this?

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6.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 10 Ratings

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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 17
  2. Negative: 0 out of 17
  1. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Feb 20, 2013
    100
    Carl Franklin's film is true to the tone and spirit of the book. It is patient and in no hurry. It allows a balanced eye for the people in its hero's family who tug him one way and another.
  2. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Feb 22, 2013
    75
    Writer-director Carl Franklin offers up a tone of heightened reverence that weighs down the material, but there are small, lovely moments when the magic realism approaches the magical.
  3. Reviewed by: Stephen Farber
    Feb 21, 2013
    70
    This material would never have attracted a major studio, so Christy Walton — heir to the Wal-Mart fortune — financed the picture herself, not because of any desire to become a movie mogul but simply because of her passion for the novel. She allowed the filmmakers to work without major stars or obvious commercial hooks added to the story. Although the film doesn’t always sustain dramatic impact, its fidelity to the spirit of the novel is impressive.
  4. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Feb 21, 2013
    63
    Obviously a labor love, and its very existence in a godforsaken marketplace is a minor miracle.
  5. Reviewed by: Ernest Hardy
    Feb 26, 2013
    60
    Volumes are said about class, assimilation, and the ways the assimilated sometimes shame and scar those who haven't shorn themselves of ethnic or racial signifiers. There is pungency in this shorthand, in these sketches that are richly evocative without saying too much or giving too little. You can't help but wish the movie had more of it.
  6. Reviewed by: Connie Ogle
    Feb 21, 2013
    50
    The film isn’t overlong. But it tries to fit so many themes into its brief running time — that it merely touches on most conflicts instead of exploring them in depth or with any delicacy.
  7. Reviewed by: Randy Cordova
    Feb 22, 2013
    40
    The lyrical book is filled with touches of magical realism. On the other hand, the movie is sorely lacking in both magic and realism. It’s all very empty and blah.

See all 17 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 6
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 6
  3. Negative: 2 out of 6
  1. Feb 23, 2013
    8
    Picked this movie on a whim. Glad that I did. Convincing performances, although Castulo Guerra's portrayal of Tenorio seemed a little over the top at times. I thought the storyline was pretty taut, and the themes of spirituality and justice are played well. Would not be surprised if this made many critics' top 10 lists for 2013. Expand
  2. Oct 19, 2013
    7
    I watched this movie (rented on Redbox) and was pleasantly entertained. "Bless Me, Ultima" is a coming-of-age movie the tradition of the genre. Directed by Carl Franklin adapted from the novel by Rudolfo Anaya, the movie follows young Antonio (played exceedingly well by Luke Ganalon) and his relationship with Ultima (Miriam Colon), an elderly medicine woman. Set in a small, rural village in 1940s New Mexico, Antonio comes to terms with his Catholic upbringing and the old shaman magic of Ultima. The old woman serves as a mentor to the boy. Collapse
  3. Jan 26, 2014
    7
    A simple and beautiful imaged coming-of-age story. The film is based on a novel by Rudolfo Anaya, an American author and one of the founders of modern Chicano literature. Antonio tells the story of him growing up in New Mexico under the watchful eye of Ultima, a curandera or healer. Ultima has knowledge about healing herbs. Most people see her as a person who possesses supernatural powers and cures diseases caused by evil spirits. Those diseases are believed to be a punishment from God. Others see Ultima as a kind of witch ( Bruja ) who can transform into an owl. Antonio accompanies her while she collects medicinal herbs. He visits with her the sick and begins to understand the connectedness of nature with the process of healing even though he never gets an explicit scientific explanation about the healingproces, how she casts spells onto witches or why she sometimes decides not to intervene.

    Don't expect a flashy entertaining and action-packed movie. Despite the film proceeds in a sluggish manner while creating an image of this community in Guadalupe, the film was able to captivate me. I've never read the novel. So I can't judge whether the film follows the book to a great extent or not. The main part of the film shows the relationship between Ultima and Antonio. You notice immediately that there is a very strong link between those two from the first moment they have met. The fragments where Ultima passes her knowledge of medicinal plants and herbs to Antonio, are beautiful and very emotionally. The moment Ultima is on her way to heal an uncle of Antonio is actually a key moment. There is a curse on him by the daughter of a local resident named Tenorio Trementina. Eventually, Antonio faces a kind of exorcism, followed by the application of a kind of voodoo ritual.

    The ongoing theme is Antonio's Christian faith that is developing, while being confronted with primitive rituals . The moment he celebrates ​​his First Holy Communion and supposedly be one with God, he sees the chance to get an answer on a question about Narciso. The fact that he receives no response ensures that there is doubt about the whole Christian faith. The death of a boyfriend who disbelieves cause there's been done so much injustice to him, probably also has a big influence.

    The acting of Ultima and Antonio by Miriam Colon and Luke Ganalon is excellent and credible. Colon is a female Mexican version of "Gandalf" with a strong personality despite her old age, and a furrowed, tanned face that radiates wisdom. However, the best player is Ganalon. Superb acting. The supporting cast is perfectly chosen.

    So if you want to experience a zen-moment among all the other action-packed and exciting movies, then you should try this film.
    Expand
  4. Feb 26, 2013
    7
    If you're tired of the usual Hollywood loud special effects films, or the extended bad sit-com movies, this might be an option for you. Slow paced and dialogue driven, spiritual, and completely watchable. The success of the entire movie depends on child actor Luke Ganalon, and he does an excellent job in the title role. One day an elderly medicine woman (a "Curandera") arrives at young Antonio's home to spend the final days of her life, and there is an instant bond between the two. She teaches him the ways of her healing and magic, and the special relationship Man shares with the earth. Curanderas are both revered and feared in their culture, and she is seen as an evil witch by some. The only problem I had with the movie is that it is narrated by the older Antonio in parts, and it is never explained who he has become as an adult. Still, a well done film. Expand
  5. Mar 4, 2013
    3
    Hm-m, where do I begin? Yes this movie is different from a typical Hollywood movie. Does it necessarily mean better? I don't think so. Not in this particular case.
    The set is beautiful. But that is nearly the only positive thing I am telling about the movie. The screenplay did not impress me. It is admittedly difficult to make a good script out of a good book. Acting? What would be an opposite of "stand out"? "Obscure"? That is how I could describe most of kids' performances including the main character. He is so cute! Maybe the director assumed that good looks could replace acting skills? With the same expression the hero watches how tragic things happen all around him. Truly, it is beyond y comprehension, why most of critics are so hype about the movie...
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  6. Sep 27, 2013
    3
    Read professional critic reviews scoring equal to or less than 50...Yeah, what they said. Excited when I saw this offering on streaming video, I watched patiently for an hour and thirty-four minutes, ignoring the depictions very broad strokes. Stunned I was when I realized that the filmmakers had utterly failed to capture what, to my mind, is an iconic moment in literature, akin to Gandalf standing his ground on a narrow stone bridge over an abyss. Good to see film treatment of a great story too-long neglected; bad because a "reboot" will, likely, never happen. Expand

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