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La Bamba Review

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Condensed biopic of Ritchie Valens (Ohillips), the seventeen year-old rock and roll wunderkind whose career was tragically ended in it's infancy as he perished alongside Buddy Holly in an aircrash.

★★★★★

A dedicatory, sometimes sombre recreation of the career of 50s teen-throb Richie Valens, which feels like a personal project by director Luis Valdez. Dying a teenager, there is still much packed in here – the burgeoning love with girlfriend Donna (von Zerneck), the inevitable rough and tumble rivalry with brother Bob (Morales), the impoverished roots.

There are, sad to say, too many clichés of the Fifties here, with every parent in sight reeling at the prospect of teenagers having fun as if pleasure were a B-movie monster. Perhaps this is intended to bring something of the devil into the music of an unfortunate youth who was, by this account, just a good kid who got on the wrong plane. Sobriety lurks at the back of each scene as we already know the outcome, but the authentic music does something to lift spirits, so long as you’re into it the warbling Fifties hearthrobs poured out.

A perfectly respectable biopic that seems to have just that, respectability, and a desire to commit memories to film, as it's drive.