Selena Movie Review

The short life of Tejano superstar Selena Quintanilla-Perez ended in 1995 when the 23-year-old was gunned down by her own assistant. Young, beautiful, newly married, and beloved by millions of music fans, Selena was at the height of her popularity and was making inroads into the mainstream American pop market when it all came to that tragic end. What a biography. And what a screenplay.

Two years after Selena's death, writer/director Gregory Nava brought Selena to the screen with Jennifer Lopez bravely taking on the challenge of appearing in almost every scene, doing all that dancing, and lip-synching all those songs. It was a triumph for the actress that 10 years later she has yet to surpass.

Told in typical episodic biopic style, with every major life event compressed into a three-minute bite, Selena's story begins when, as a little girl (Becky Lee Meza), she watches her father's (Edward James Olmos) doo-wop group struggle on the road across Texas. With his long-suffering wife (Constance Marie) and his other kids along for the ride, things start to look up when young Selena joins the band, wowing crowds with her precocious Tejano talent. What a cutie!

By the time she's a teen, Selena has turned into a voluptuous yet sweet bombshell and is on her way to becoming a breakout star but struggles with the fact that she's American and doesn't speak Spanish, not the best background for someone catering to Mexican-American and Spanish-speaking demographic. As she puts it, she has to be American enough to appeal to Americans and Spanish enough to appeal to everyone else. She learns Spanish to charm Mexican journalists, and before long she's a gorgeous 20-year-old in front of a tight band cranking out Spanish-language hits and touring to huge crowds. Confident enough to calm rowdy audiences of thousands on the state fair circuit, she's a real pro, albeit one with a truly tacky sense of fashion.

Selena eventually falls for the guitar player in her band, Chris Perez (Jon Seda), and marries him against her father's wishes. It's very romantic. But the love won't last. Just as Selena is finally charting in English on the American charts, her assistant and fan club president Yolanda Saldivar (Lupe Ontiveros) shoots her in the wake of accusations of financial wrongdoing.

With lots of drama, a great soundtrack, and solid performances all around, especially from Lopez, Selena races by enjoyably and builds to a conclusion that's shocking even though you know it's coming. Tacking on a maudlin slideshow of the real Selena does a bit of a disservice to Lopez. Though this practice was long fashionable with musical biographies, there's no need for an exercise in comparing and contrasting, especially when you're wiping tears from your eyes.

The 10th anniversary DVD includes new featurettes, deleted scenes, and an extended cut of the film.

Fly girl no more!

Cast & Crew

Director :


Comments

Selena Rating

" Good "

Rating: NR, 1997

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