Traces over three generations an immigrant family's trials, tribulations, tragedies, and triumphs.
Young Paco leaves his small Mexican village in 1920 to find his last living relative. All he knows is that the man lives in a small town up the coast called Los Angeles. So begins a richly textured saga of the troubled Sanchez family recalled in flashback through three snapshots: the 20s, 50s and 80s.
Paco marries a local girl and they start a family. But when shes pregnant with their third child, shes rounded up by ethnic cleansing immigration officials and carted unceremoniously back to Mexico. She manages to return, but as the years pass, the trauma doesnt let up for a second. One of their sons (Morales) murders a hoodlum and is shot in front of his young brother; a daughter becomes a nun and then marries a priest; while another son (NYPD Blues Smits) grows up a broken man after a spell in the slammer. Meanwhile, poor old Paco, who probably wishes hed stayed put and grown old harvesting chillies, presides over his accident prone dynasty like a down-market Blake Carrington coping valiantly with each crisis-ridden turn.
The action leaps haphazardly from one skilfully woven piece to another, each handled with a refreshing gusto, but the frenetic pace leaves scant time to take stock and reflect on what the film might be preaching. That said, some of the visions are staggeringly powerful: a young woman washed down a raging torrent with her baby; another dying in childbirth; a flick knife fight on a dance floor; and the family watching I Love Lucy while their son is hunted down and killed by the cops.
A likeable, thoroughly engrossing film then, but with such ambitious pretensions, the bare bones of the script could have done with a little more meat.
Lackluster, but likable family epic.