- Gregory Nava
- Reviewed by
- José Ruiloba a.k.a. Morris
- Review date
- Thursday, May 20, 2004
The movie tells the story of Selena (Jennifer Lopez), a Tejano girl who was discovered by her father Abraham (Edward James Olmos) who further encouraged her to become a professional singer, which she did to a lot of success. Her life ended at age 23 when she was murdered by her assistant Yolanda Saldívar (Lupe Ontiveros).
Selena exists for two main reasons: it works as a biography of this person who meant so much for many different people, and it is an inspirational story. Selena was a girl who followed her dreams and ultimately achieved what she was looking for. She loved to dance and sing, and she became a sensation in that regard. But her life wasn’t easy. Her father was too strict, and she even had to marry her guitarist in secret.
Now, while the movie certainly works as a dramatic piece, it does have its flaws. It suffers from the usual biography symptoms in which we see this girl in different stages of her life with some very uncomfortable transitions in time frames that don’t quite gel.
Selena also, not surprisingly, celebrates the singer’s music. Huge scenes are set up for concerts and events that actually happened, and director Gregory Nava handles them very well. People who don’t like her music will find the movie tiring, but fortunately she was known for lively, rhythmic tunes that are always a blast to hear. The movie shows it and we feel it.
As performances go, the movie belongs to Jennifer Lopez, who was mostly unknown (yes, she was once) by the time the movie got made. She ended up getting a Golden Globe nod and a lot of roles that eventually catapulted her to stardom. Selena is arguably one of her best performances despite all the work she’s done since, because she is simple, natural and emulates the singer amazingly well. Whether she’s talking, singing or dancing, Lopez is a hoot.
An enjoyable movie about a girl whose dreams were shattered, but who nevertheless left a big impression in the world she inhabited. Well done.
“We have to be more American than the Americans and more Mexican than the Mexicans. It's twice as exhausting!”
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