You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.

X

Welcome to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

Review: In ‘Cesar Chavez,’ strong actresses overshadow title character


A biographical feature detailing the life of Cesar Chavez is long overdue, so many people will welcome the arrival of director Diego Luna’s latest, “Cesar Chavez.”

Luna, who shot to fame as an actor with the Mexican hit “Y Tu Mamá También,” tells the story of the labor leader by looking at the 1960s Delano grape strike and boycott against California growers by the United Farm Workers. Begun in 1965, the strike lasted more than five years, with Chavez eventually going on a fast that drew widespread attention.

Michael Peña, whose credits include Paul Haggis’ “Crash,” David O. Russell’s “American Hustle” and David Ayer’s “End of Watch,” stars as Chavez. And the actor says that he tried to study Chavez’s soft-spoken yet firm oratory. But while his portrayal may be verbally authentic, the gravitas and complexity of the union leader doesn’t come across as well as intended. And that detracts from the overall effectiveness of the film.

It’s not entirely Peña’s fault. He has to try to keep up with two high-powered actresses: America Ferrera as Chavez’s wife, Helen, whose loyalty to the cause was sorely tested, and the volatile Rosario Dawson as Dolores Huerta, the co-founder of the National Farmworkers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers.

Dawson, in particular, shines as the fiery labor leader who gave up a teaching career to help organize workers. And she’s a scene-stealer.

Luna also creates a fictional, composite character to represent the leader of the growers who opposed Chavez’s efforts to organize workers. In the movie, he’s called Bogdonovitch, and he’s played by the usually excellent John Malkovich. But in “Cesar Chavez,” Malkovich doesn’t have much to work with when considering the script by Keir Pearson and Timothy J. Sexton. He’s more of an archetype of privilege rather than a fully fleshed-out character.

While much of the movie focuses on the tireless efforts of Chavez to organize workers, Luna deliberately tries to avoid deification of the labor leader by showing how much his work interfered with his family life. One of his sons, in fact, grows alienated over Chavez’s long absences.

And perhaps that’s the point: Although undoubtedly a great leader who struggled to build a nonviolent labor movement, Chavez was also a normal, simple man with flaws. And even those kinds of men and women can do exceptional things, especially if they stand together for justice. Or as Chavez and Huerta would say, “Sí, se puede.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Springfield Entertainment

Burt Reynolds to auction replica 'Smokey and the Bandit' Trans-Am
Burt Reynolds to auction replica 'Smokey and the Bandit' Trans-Am

Remember the iconic muscle car driven by Burt Reynolds in the kitchy yet classic 1977 movie Smokey and the Bandit? Who wouldn't want to own a Trans-Am just like it? Bidders will get their chance Friday at an auction in Arizona, MSN Autos reports.  A listing for the Barrett-Jackson sale in Scottsdale shows a Pro-Touring Firebird...
Report: Jennifer Holliday pulls out of Trump inauguration concert
Report: Jennifer Holliday pulls out of Trump inauguration concert

Holliday retweeted The Wrap's report on her Twitter account.In a letter addressed to "my beloved LGBT community," Holliday explained why she initially accepted the invitation to perform at the inauguration, saying she wanted to perform for the people, not for Trump. But after a vocal backlash, Holliday has decided not to perform.  According...
Children remember your words for the rest of their lives

“Parentspeak - What’s Wrong with How We Talk to Our Children — and What to Say Instead” by Jennifer Lehr (Workman, 276 pages, $14.95) We’ve all seen it. And heard it. In public places, watching parents interact with their children, what’s being said and done. Heck, maybe they were your own kids and you are evaluating...
Clark State Theatre Arts to hold auditions for ‘The Clean House’
Clark State Theatre Arts to hold auditions for ‘The Clean House’

The Clark State Community College Theatre Arts Program will hold auditions in January for their spring production of The Clean House by Sarah Ruhl. The Clean House centers around Matilde, an aspiring comedian, who has come to “metaphysical Connecticut” via Brazil to clean the home of Lane and Charles, but instead secretly works on developing...
'The Exorcist' author William Peter Blatty dies at 89
'The Exorcist' author William Peter Blatty dies at 89

Author William Peter Blatty, who wrote the best-selling horror novel, "The Exorcist," has died at the age of 89.
More Stories