Australian Council on Children and the Media

Bella

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Short takes

Not recommended under 11, PG to 13 (Themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Bella
  • a review of Bella completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 21 February 2008.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 11 Lacks interest for this age group and not recommended due to themes.
Children 11-13 Parental guidance recommended due to themes.
Children over the age of 13 OK for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Bella
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes
Length 91 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Jose (Eduardo Verastegui) has finally realised his dreams and has just been signed to play professional soccer. As fate would have it, on the very day his new life is set to begin a tragic accident involving the death of a child lands him jail.

In remorse, having served his sentence, Jose no longer allows himself the joy and release that soccer once brought. Instead he works as the head chef in his brother Manny’s (Manny Perez) Mexican restaurant. It is here, surrounded by family and friends, that he finds some solace, though it appears that the memories of the little girl who lost her life are never far from his mind.

While working in the restaurant Jose gets to know Nina (Tammy Blanchard) who works as a waitress until Manny fires her for coming in late. While Manny is concerned about the bottom line of his business, Jose concerns himself with the wellbeing of the people he works with and he risks his job in order to help Nina. Ultimately his simple act of kindness saves one life and changes his own forever.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Death of a child; grief; adoption; abortion; family breakdown

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • As a form of punishment, Jose burns himself by holding his hand over an open flame.
  • The mother of the little girl who was killed physically attacks Jose.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under five, including the following:

  • The scene in which a little girl is struck down and killed by the car that Jose is driving is very tense and emotional. The screams of the mother as she is holding the bloodied body of her dead child are haunting and could be extremely disturbing to many young children.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by the scenes described above.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film.

Product placement

None of concern.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Discusion of Nina’s unwanted pregnancy and the possibility of an abortion.
  • Jose’s mother asks him why he is taking a special interest in Nina, and what her pregnancy has to do with him.

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Nina smokes a cigarette while waiting for Jose.
  • Alcohol is served for a toast at a family dinner.

Coarse language

None of concern.

In a nutshell

Bella is a thought-provoking drama which, although tragic in some respects, has an ultimate sense of purpose and redemption.

The main messages from this movie are that in a single moment your life can change forever, and that even apparently insurmountable obstacles placed in your path are there for a purpose and can be overcome.

Values that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • the value of life
  • taking responsibility for one’s actions
  • the importance of family and forgiveness

Parents may also wish to discuss the issues surrounding an unwanted pregnancy which are raised in the film.

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