The truth is that passion is abundant in My Family. Jimmy Smits, Edward James Olmos, Esai Morales, and leading Mexican actor Eduardo Lopez Rojas star; these men are at home with the words coming out of their mouths. The story (written by Nava and his wife, producer Anna Thomas) follows the family from Jose Sanchez’s arrival in Los Angeles in the 1920s, through the 1950s (when his son Chucho, played by Morales, rebels against the old traditions), and into the 1980s (when Chucho’s kid brother, Jimmy, played beautifully by Smits, grows into an angry and withdrawn man). All the acting is confident (Mexican-born Elpidia Carrillo, in particular, is luminous as a young Salvadoran woman married off to Jimmy to avoid deportation); all the accents, gracias, are right. My Family is one of those uplifting, life-affirming things you’d see on public television’s American Playhouse (it is, in fact, presented in association with the AP team, who previously helped produce Nava’s El Norte), and as such it’s unshakable in its inspirational intensity, with an earnestness that might jade the dyspeptic. But given a choice — between the faux interpretation or the real thing — la verdad wins out every time. B+
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