New Movie Review: Cesar Chavez In A Nutshell

Diego Luna’s CESAR CHAVEZ is the first film about the activist to hit the big screen. The independent production from Diego Luna’s production company La Canana produced the film outside of the Hollywood system, which probably explains why this film is so good. Luna consciously set out to bring Cesar Chavez to the big screen not as a hero but a regular man dedicated to a cause.  He was not portrayed as a saint nor a loud leader seeking attention.  The film doesn’t tell his whole life story but starts when he moves his family to Delano to start forming the United Farm Workers, but we get a narrated version of his backstory at the start.

It was such a relief that CESAR CHAVEZ was such an enjoyable movie. When it comes to films about Latinos or made by Latinos, the story can be preachy or very one-sided. It doesn’t matter if your Latino or not, CESAR CHAVES appeals to the human emotion and relatable to all.

It’s no surprise that Michael Peña’s performance is award-worthy.  He is the most underrated actor in Hollywood and when the announcement came through that he would portray the beloved Cesar Chavez, it was already a win.  America Ferrera’s role as Cesar Chavez wife Helen also proved a winner for the actress who we haven’t seen in a juicy role on the big screen for a while.

Diego Luna’s directing was very subtle and he mastered the storytelling without it becoming a documentary. He created real conflicts not just on the picketing line but within the man who sacrificed his family life to bring justice to California farm workers. He evokes emotion in you through the events and characters. You feel like you are there watching on the sidelines and feeling the frustrations  

More people should learn more about this great man, and hopefully the success of this film means more stories like these will be told on the big screen.   A lot of folks know the famous Spanish slogan, “Si Se Puede”  and throw it out a lot but now they can learn more about the circumstances surrounding the birth of that phrase.

CESAR CHAVEZ is now playing in movie theaters.

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