- Benjamin Bratt stars in 'La Mission.'
This week, the Tobias (Toby) Theatre at the Indianapolis Museum of Art gears up to welcome Peter Bratt, the writer/director behind indie film La Mission, which debuted at Sundance in 2009.
The director's brother and Law & Order alum Benjamin Bratt plays the film's protagonist Che Rivera, an ex-convict and recovering alcoholic with a rough past. These days, Rivera drives a bus for money, hits a heavy-bag for exercise, and builds custom low-riders for pasttime — it seems like he's gotten himself together since his stint in the slammer. But when he learns that his son Jesse (Jeremy Ray Valdez) is gay, Rivera reacts violently and backtracks along his path to redemption.
While the plot threatens with the possibility of cliché, its heartfelt effort gives it many saving graces. The film gets points for being an extremely earnest work. It portrays San Francisco's Mission barrio as a colorful, proud, and cultured neighborhood that's usually only shown on the silver screen to signal to the audience that trouble is about to start — trouble of the drugs, gangs, and guns sort.
Benjamin Bratt fans will enjoy seeing the capable actor take another step toward serious-minded indie films. The character's actions, although predictable, are always believable. When Rivera struts down the aisle of a bus to confront a violent passenger, you can tell from his walk that he's been hardened by time and experience. When he threatens his son's lover, you fully believe he means business.
The plot is familiar, but the real-life issues addressed have been problematic for generations. La Mission nobly carries on a needed conversation about the foil between homosexuality and Catholic beliefs, and the effect that violence has on a community — the importance of these issues finds its way through despite the story's banalities.
La Mission premieres Thursday, Jan. 13 at 7 p.m. at The Toby. Presented by the Latino Youth Collective, the Indiana Youth Group, and the IMA. Free admission to the public. Discussion with director Peter Bratt to follow the film.