Monday, July 28, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

'César Chávez': Inspiring history but labored filmmaking

Michael Peña as the farm-labor activist and America Ferrera as his wife, Helen Chávez.
Michael Peña as the farm-labor activist and America Ferrera as his wife, Helen Chávez.
About the movie
Cesar Chavez
Genre:
Drama
MPAA rating:
PG-13
for some violence and language
Running time:
01:41
Release date:
2014
Rating:
Cast:
Rosario Dawson; Gabriel Mann; America Ferrera; Michael Peña
Directed by:
Diego Luna

César Chávez, a new biopic about the labor activist, elicited applause and cheers, bordering on the ecstatic, at a recent screening for critics and members of a local film society.

Featuring a repertory cast led by Michael Peña, Mexican director Diego Luna's pic is about the five hard, lean, brutal years it took Chávez, his wife Helen (America Ferrera), lawyer Jerry Cohen (Wes Bentley), and a group of volunteers to organize the United Farm Workers, initially called the National Farm Workers Association, in Delano, Calif., in the 1960s.

As history lesson, César Chávez is inspiring, especially welcome in an era when, at least according to Chávez's spiritual heirs, corporate power once again trumps workers' rights.

As drama, however, it is an amateurish mess, with faltering direction and wooden acting.

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    The answer continues to evade us.

     


    César Chávez ** (out of four stars)

    Directed by Diego Luna. With Michael Peña, America Ferrera, Rosario Dawson, Yancey Arias, Wes Bentley. Distributed by Lionsgate.

    Running time: 1 hour, 41 mins.

    Parent's guide: PG-13 (violence, profanity, smoking)

    Playing at: The PFS Theater at the Roxy


    tirdad@phillynews.com

    215-854-2736

     

    Tirdad Derakhshani Inquirer Staff Writer
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