Small Town Big Miracle
Having illegally crossed the border to try and find his father young Jose Maldonado (Eddy Martin) ends up in the small town of San Ramos which is dying as people abandon it unable to make a living there. Having spent the night hiding in the church where he tried to clean a knife wound to his shoulder Jose finds shelter in a vacant shop across the street. Meanwhile Josephina (Soledad St. Hilaire) enters the church to say prayers and screams miracle as she sees tears of blood running from the eyes of the statue of Jesus. Whilst Father Russell (Peter Fonda) is sceptical of it being a miracle and convinced it is a prank the town is soon a buzz with the news. And it spreads as people from far and wide come to see the miracle of the tears of blood bringing business back to the town. The question is, is it a miracle or is the miracle something else?
If I was in a bad mood I would say that Salma Hayek's inexperience as a director showed in her first movie behind the camera "The Maldonado Miracle", because it is safe, predictable and simple. But I'm not it a bad mood as whilst "The Maldonado Miracle" maybe predictable it is also simply beautiful, easy on the mind and eyes, full of small town wit and quirks and is basically charming. It maybe Salma Hayek's debt as a director, and a safe one at that, it is nicely directed with simple use of flashbacks and transitions so that it never becomes disjointed or too slow, trotting along at a pleasantly charming pace allowing the story and the characters to work their magic.
It's actually quite ironic because whilst "The Maldonado Miracle" is a simple movie it has a lot going on. As it opens and we follow young Jose into the town of San Ramos with its population of just 400 we can guess by the less than bustling bar that this is a town in decline. And this is reiterated the next morning as we see a family move out, leaving an empty shop behind and the town edging ever closer to being abandoned. It's not so much a statement being made but it makes us aware of the economic difficulties facing these smaller towns as they basically dry up in need of a miracle to save them.
Of course this is followed by the miracle and we know what is coming when we watch the full figured Josephina head into the town's church as I expect she religiously does every day and sees it, the blood coming from the eyes of a statue of Jesus on the cross and comes out screaming miracle. It is amusing because Josephina is a character we recognize and are amused by especially as events unfold and with this miracle becoming big news she milks her 15 minutes of fame as the discoverer of the statue. And that is the thing about "The Maldonado Miracle" because much of its charm comes from the amusing and predictable way it affects the town, Father Russell is cautious of turning his church into a commercial enterprise whilst others in town want to make every penny they can out of the increased tourism leading to plenty of humour from souvenir sellers on the door step of the church to the diverse selection of people who come from far and wide to the church to witness this miracle.
But alongside this miracle we also have the actual characters and in particaular young Jose who through a series of nicely incorporated flashbacks learn how he came to be in the town of San Ramos, having illegally crossed the border to try and find his father. And of course there is the fact that we see that he has an arm injury and at one point was lying on scaffolding above the statue of Jesus. It basically means we can assume the blood is Jose's rather than a miracle and so whilst the town gets caught up in frenzy over it at some point someone will discover this little fact. Although to tell you exactly what happens would be wrong but let's just say you will be amused by the outcome of all of this.
What this all boils down to is that "The Maldonado Miracle" is a lovely movie, full of charm, pleasantness and simple humour. It doesn't deliver many surprises as for the most it is predicable but when something is as simply charming as this originality and style doesn't really matter.