Selena is resurrected in all her glamour
Starring Jennifer Lopez, Edward James Olson, Jon Seda
Directed by Gregory Nava
At Famous Players 6, 7 and 9:45 p.m.
In an age when real-life stories are the basis of entire television series and personal histories are recreated (truthfully or not) on film, along comes another effort to bring a horrible tragedy to light.
Selena is a true-story film which attempts to capture the talent and enthusiasm of Selena Quintanilla Perez (played by Jennifer Lopez), the 23-year-old Tejano music star who was suddenly murdered by her fan club manager, Yolanda Saldivar (played by Lupe Ontiveros). The film was executive-produced by Selena's father, Abraham Quintanilla, which should mean that the film presents a fair and accurate portrayal of Selena's life. It seems, however, that Mr. Quintanilla's influence was not enough to create more than a glamourous, shallow, Hollywood film.
Lopez is perfect in her role as Selena and actually shares a lot of similar physical characteristics. At the end of the film a montage of real footage of Selena is shown and these clips are hardly distinguishable from the earlier, staged moments of the film. The rest of the cast is unremarkable in its performances. This characteristic works well in presenting the family as ordinary but also gives the film little appeal.
Selena definitely has the feel of a biography. At times the cinematography is similar to that of a home movie and the dialogue is often spontaneous and conversational. The film is also intensely focused on the life of the Quintanilla family, which is fine for the purposes of a biography, but gives the film too narrow of a focus.
Actually, a few outside issues are brought into the film, such as Mexican and American cultural differences, racism, as well as women's equality in the music business. These issues are dealt with briefly and aren't fully developed in the film. Because of this, Selena comes across as a film with little or no conflict, which is surprising for a film that ends with an unprovoked murder. The viewer instead sits through two hours of hugging, laughing and happy success, until the last five minutes when the film ends on an abrupt and sad note.
The conflict that is contained in the film is manifested in simple family disputes. The mother and father have one personal argument in the entire film, as do Selena and her father. These moments are quickly dealt with and then the happiness begins again. Even though this is a fact-based film, it would seem important to show the struggles as well as the successes of the main character.
Because it mainly portrays the good points of Selena's life and ends so abruptly, the film lacks any sort of inherent truth or lesson to be learned. There is also nothing visually stunning about the film, except some of Selena's outrageous costumes. As a whole, Selena comes across as a glamourized view of one woman's love-filled life and the sudden murder which tore her from it. Her story could have been told in a more in-depth manner, perhaps in an A&E biography, rather than a two-hour film.