Bella & r & & r & by TAMMY MARSHALL & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & C & lt;/span & anadians loved director Alejandro Gomez Monteverde's Bella. It won the People's Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2007, thus verifying that Canada is full of bleeding hearts.

This mushy-gushy heart-rending tale focuses on a Mexican-American (Eduardo Verastegui) who's about to become a big-time soccer player. Instead, Jos & eacute; causes a horrible accident that ends his career and leaves him working as a chef in his brother Manny's restaurant. When his brother fires a woman named Nina (Tammy Blanchard) for repeated tardiness, Jos & eacute; walks out and follows her around New York. While plot inconsistencies sprout during their trek, at least a few brief moments of original thought, directing and realism spring into the film.

When Nina enters a convenience store, and the focus of the plot shifts to a conflict between two characters never seen again in the film, for the first time the movie doesn't whimper about its open wounds. Alas, these two fighting New Yorkers are never seen again -- even though the contrast between them suggests a need for cultural understanding somewhat in the vein of a 1980s Spike Lee joint.

The rest of Bella screams for a shot of insulin. Jos & eacute; finds out that Nina is pregnant and planning an abortion. They wander and Jos & eacute; has flashbacks about his accident; he very nearly gets to the point of begging Nina to keep her child.

He takes her to meet his family. Happy and laughing, they talk and smile their sugary smiles. Nina comments to Jos & eacute; that he is so lucky to have such a wonderful family. If only she had that, she might feel able to give birth to her child and be a parent. Let's see -- two adults in a world of hurt, the potential for having a child who will need a nice family, a celebration of the happiness that a supportive family can bring ... can anybody not guess where this is headed?

Right toward a sticky-sweet ending. But then maybe this is the kind of stuff people need to see right now. At least Canadians do. (Rated PG-13)

Vandal Summer Cinema Series

Fridays, Sat., Aug. 21 and Thu., Aug. 26. Continues through Aug. 20
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