Fans of the book—now almost 40 years old—will likely get behind this adaptation of Rudolfo Anaya’s Bless Me, Ultima, so long as they’re cool with the necessary condensing and contracting that films have to undertake to put a richly detailed novel on the screen. The story of a boy growing up in the New Mexico desert in the 1940s, its telling is somewhere between honesty and preachy earnestness. This is a coming-of-age journey for Antonio (Luke Ganalon), whose family invites an aging spiritual healer named Ultima (Miriam Colón) to move in with them. The bond between the boy and the old woman is close, and comes at a time when Antonio is impressionable about a lot of things, from community to faith to the battle between good and evil. If there’s a consistent criticism of the film, it’s that it’s more well meaning than well executed.
Director: Carl Franklin
Producer: Jesse Beaton, Mark Johnson, Tom Williams, Sarah DiLeo, Kevin Reidy and Christy Walton
Cast: Miriam Colon, Benito Martinez, Dolores Heredia, Castulo Guerra, Joaquín Cosio, Reko Moreno, Joseph Garcia, Raul Castillo, Miguel Gómez, Luke Ganalon, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo and Luis Bordonada