Lady of Guadalupe
Most Catholics know the story about the apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe in 1531 to St. Juan Diego (Guillermo Iván) in what is now Mexico City. This film begins in the present day. John (also played by Iván) is a journalist who meets Mary (Kimberley Aria Peterson) when he is researching in the library, and they soon marry. But he resists when his editor, Mr. Dominguez (Rudy Miera), assigns him a story about Mexican identity and beliefs. He suggests that John attend a class with Father Xavier Escalada (Glenn Craley), who is speaking about Our Lady of Guadalupe. John’s wife drops him off on the way to her baby shower. Then something happens that changes everything.
The film goes back 500 years to the village where Juan Diego lives with his wife and uncle before they are baptized and receive Christian names. The people struggle against the oppression of the conquistadors, but when the Franciscan missionaries arrive and teach people about Jesus and the Gospels, they are baptized.
When Juan Diego’s uncle becomes ill, he goes for medicine by way of the hill of Tepeyac. There, a beautiful lady (Paola Baldion) appears to him. She asks him to go to the bishop and request that a chapel be built there in her honor so that she may help the people in their time of need. Juan Diego, believing himself unworthy, doesn’t go to the bishop right away. He takes a different route, but the lady is there. When he finally sees the bishop, he asks for a sign. The lady is the mother of Jesus, and she gives Juan Diego a sign that is still with us today.
It is always challenging for filmmakers to present the Blessed Mother in a movie—and even more difficult for an actress to play her. But the portrayal here is convincing without being sentimental. Choosing to go back and forth with parallel story lines separated by centuries to frame the narrative is not new, but here it is given fresh expression by director Pedro Brenner and cowriter Seann Dougherty.
Lady of Guadalupe is a beautiful tribute to the mother of God, the faith of the Mexican people, and all who honor Our Lady of Guadalupe as a patroness of life.
Not yet rated • Some fighting and mistreatment of people.
A Week Away
The film opens with teen Will Hawkins (Kevin Quinn) running from the cops—again. When he goes to family court, a social worker, Kristin (Sherri Shepherd), suggests that a week away at camp with her and her son, George (Jahbril Cook), might be just the thing. Will resists but decides it’s better than a group home.
On the bus to camp, Will is genuinely shocked to find out from George that they are going to a church camp. He feels out of place, but his fears are assuaged when he meets Avery (Bailee Madison), the prettiest girl at camp. But Will soon learns she is also the camp owner’s daughter.
The premise of this teen Christian musical will appeal to young viewers and their parents. There are numerous songs and energetic dance numbers with contributions from Amy Grant (who plays a camp counselor) and Michael W. Smith, among others. Christian musician Steven Curtis Chapman plays a lifeguard and contributes to the soundtrack too.
Most of the key actors got their start on Disney Channel and will be familiar to younger audiences. A plus for parents is that the kids, even when romping in the lake, dress modestly, and the romance is very PG. At first, I thought A Week Away was corny. But as the story unfolds and Will is forced to grow up and tell the truth, it becomes more complex—though it takes more than a week to change a life.
The cast is racially diverse, talented, and engaging. The film is directed by Roman White and written and produced by Alan Powell. It is the first faith-based family film produced by Netflix.
A-2, Not yet rated • References to car theft.
Roe V. Wade
This film is based on the true story of how Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, came to be. Dr. Bernard Nathanson (Nick Loeb) opens the story of how he came to favor abortion and eventually become the nation’s leading abortion provider. He teams up with writer and political activist Lawrence Lader (Jamie Kennedy), who becomes a champion of abortion rights.
After thousands of abortions and becoming very wealthy from his clinics, Dr. Nathanson realizes what he has done when sonograms become available. But the real moment is when he reassembles the parts of a baby he has aborted, as doctors are required to do. He is baptized a Catholic and writes the book The Silent Scream. Documentary footage of a very graphic abortion is included at the end of Roe v. Wade.
Stacey Dash plays Dr. Mildred Jefferson, the first Black woman to graduate from Harvard Medical School. She is portrayed as the pro-life counterpart to the abortion doctors, but I thought the film might have been more engaging from her perspective. Roe v. Wade has a low-budget quality to it, and the acting is not very polished. A limited series may have been a better medium to tell this story fully. The film’s assertions are fact-checked on its website, but the statistics at the end of the film are dated.
Not yet rated, PG-13 • Contains graphic images of aborted fetuses.