August 02, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT

Gentrification: It isn’t just for neighborhoods anymore. In Quinceañera, a we’re-down-with-the-locals indie kitchen-sink drama written and directed by creative and life partners Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland, exceptionally colorful fictional specimens of L.A.’s predominantly Mexican Echo Park community face unwelcome changes with the influx of upscale white residents. And really, they’ve got enough on their plates without a pasty Pottery Barn clientele moving in: Magdalena (appealing newcomer Emily Rios), about to celebrate the solemn/splashy quinceañera that traditionally marks a 15-year-old Latina’s coming-of-age, discovers she’s pregnant; her cousin Carlos (Jesse Garcia) gets kicked out of his house not because he’s in a gang, but because he’s gay; and although old, wise, loving Yoda-like Uncle Tomas (indomitable Chalo González, stealing the show 37 years after his debut in The Wild Bunch) is willing to take the pair in, he’s also running out of steam. Plus, in a twist most likely to occur to a filmmaker with a background in bad gay indies, Tomas’ landlords are now a couple of gay gentrifiers themselves, with eyes for Carlos. (The camera caresses Garcia.) Coincidence? Por favor. The setup may be no more contrived than in melodrama — or Little Miss Sunshine. But this isn’t just any setup, is it: It’s suds being sold as ethno-sensitive reality, a case of coveting thy neighbor’s fiesta.

90 minutes
Wash Westmoreland
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