Cesar Chavez

Delano, California


27 March 2014| No Comments on Cesar Chavez     by Sean Chavel


I can honestly say it’s good because it’s educational. Cesar Chavez on the nitpicky end is a workmanlike biopic on the 1960’s-70’s labor union leader who stuck to non-violence and to the integrity of his principles so Mexican grape-pickers could earn fair wages. Michael Peña, the sometimes laughable star of several puerile movies, is level-headed and committed as the eponymous historical figure who went on a hunger strike in order to rally his people. Diego Luna, the actor, uses too much jittery shaky-cam in his directorial debut. But he’s assisted by America Ferrara and Rosario Dawson… wait, the Puerto-Rican and Cuban born actress Rosario Dawson is playing a Mexican?

Most of the setting is Delano, California, but forgive me if I don’t know anymore except that it’s somewhere in Central California. Chavez would initiate a march on the capital, Sacramento, and he would get news headlines that would gain attention for his cause. Whites at the time were divided amongst those who wanted to give Mexicans human rights and those who wanted to give them two dollars a day or deportation back to Mexico as an ultimatum. John Malkovich, in full-slime mode, plays one of the bigheaded owners of grape production who would rather lose money then cave in to acknowledging a labor union.

Cesar - Chavez_Film-FlickMinute - Poster_2014The movie is best when it simply allows Chavez to discuss his principles and the hypocrisies of economics. When it is said that Mexican farm workers die at the average age of 49, you believe that must have been true. Not only were wages not enough to help support a family, but the health conditions were appalling, too. Peña, goes from humble activist to a moderately outspoken one, and really he gets under the skin of non-violent leader Chavez with a clear cause. Ferrara’s role as his wife, Helen, had swaying influence over the people, too. There are noble scenes of the coalition collecting donation boxes to help not only the cause, but the unfortunate hard luck families of the Mexican community.

Plenty of effective, thoughtful material is on display in Luna’s film, but it’s still a little short-sighted with a screenplay that uses too many generalizations. Still, the inherent importance of the film is alive and substantial.

98 Minutes. Rated PG-13.


Film Cousins: “Gandhi” (1982); “Y Tu Mama Tambien” (2001, Mexico); “A Day Without a Mexican” (2004); “Under the Same Moon” (2007).

Cesar - Chavez_FlickMinute - Poster_2014


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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


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