In local culture, it's a big deal when you hit 21 years of age. Being legally allowed to watch R21 movies is just but a blip, but what I suppose the usual celebrations will include some hard core partying. It marks a coming of age, of a transition to young adulthood.
In Latin American culture, Quinceañera refers to the young girl's reaching of age 15, celebrating maturity, with the fusion of food, dance, religion, and of course partying with family and friends. And from what the movie portrayed, it's indeed a very big deal, with beautiful gowns, elaborate customs and plenty of trinkets of gifts, as you can recap in a site like this.
The movie however, is not about the custom per se, but about young Magdalena (Emily Rios), who's finding it tough to try and assert celebrating her 15th birthday the way she wants to. It's your usual rage against the system from a teenage perspective, especially from strict upbringing by her minister father. The huge clash comes when she can't control her ranging hormones, and in a huff goes off to be with her great grandfather Tomas (Chalo Gonzalez).
There's a separate storyline running parallel though, and that is of her cousin Carlos (Jesse Garcia), who's also putting up at Tomas' abode. With a tough exterior - tattoos, attitude and all, he finds himself attracted to two gay neighbours as they share their little trysts in secret, and you'll be kept guessing for a while just which way Carlos swings.
It's a clash of cultures - conservatism, liberalism, and the changing of attitudes. But not to worry that this movie is heavy. Surprisingly, it's rather poignant, yet has this sense of fluff and light-heartedness thrown in at various points to lighten up the mood. And it manages to pack a punch despite its compact 90 minutes. The leads of Emily Rios and Jesse Garcia help too, in making their characters believable, and not too contrived.
A movie like this introduces us to different cultures, but as we learn, the lessons of life are truly universal. Quinceañera is currently showing at GV VivoCity's Cinema Europa theatre exclusively.