Sunday, October 04, 2020

Tonight's Movie: Selena (1997) - A Warner Archive Blu-ray Review

Jennifer Lopez plays the title role in SELENA (1997), available on Blu-ray from the Warner Archive.

Selena Quintanilla-Perez was the "Queen of Tejano Music," a rising Grammy-winning star on the brink of mainstream crossover success when her life abruptly ended at the age of 23.

The movie traces Selena's life from her childhood (played by Rebecca Lee Meza) in Texas. Her music-loving father Abraham (Edward James Olmos) starts a family band with daughter Suzette (Victoria Elena Flores) on drums and son Abie (Rafael Tamayo) on guitar.

As the three children grow up -- with Suzette and Abie played as adults by Jackie Guerra and Jacob Vargas -- the entire family, including mother Marcela (Constance Marie), travel constantly by bus playing venues in the U.S. and Mexico.

Selena's life was on an upward trajectory, finding success in both music and trend-setting fashion designs as well as happiness in her marriage to guitarist Chris Perez (Jon Seda). Tragically she was only 23 when it all ended suddenly; she was shot and killed by a troubled woman (Lupe Ontiveros) who had engaged in questionable business activities while running Selena's fashion boutique and fan club.

Although the movie ends sadly, it's a relatively brief section of a film which runs over two hours; the death is tastefully handled using news coverage of the shooting, which provides some helpful emotional distance which would not have been possible if the scene had been fully dramatized.

The film avoids both exploitation and bathos, focusing for the most part on Selena's wonderful life. The majority of SELENA is upbeat, developing an enjoyable story of a special young woman and her loving family with some wonderful music.

Lopez (OUT OF SIGHT) glows in the title role; it's a winning performance, and the camera loves her. Lopez convincingly lip-synchs to the real Selena's vocals and performs dance moves with flare. As Selena becomes a star, Lopez and the movie convey a young woman who appreciated what she was accomplishing and kept her priorities in order. The rest of the cast give top-notch performances in this well-done film.

I was drawn to see the movie as I've heard several people speak well of it over the years, and I'm happy to say that I really enjoyed it. At heart it's both a family story and a musical, and I liked both aspects.

SELENA was written and directed by Gregory Nava and filmed by Edward Lachman.

The Warner Archive Blu-ray looks and sounds terrific. I watched the 127-minute theatrical version; the Blu-ray also includes an "extended cut" edition.

The Blu-ray also includes two featurettes, "Selena: Queen of Tejano" and "Making of Selena: 10 Years Later"; outtakes; and the theatrical trailer.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray. Warner Archive Blu-rays may be ordered from the WBShop or from any online retailers where Blu-rays are sold.


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