Reviewed by: David Sayers
Although it could be argued that “Selena” is a film that is primarily directed to her huge base of young Hispanic fans, this story of the singer’s meteoric rise to fame and her tragic death in 1995 at the age of 24 is a touching tribute to her life and family that anyone can appreciate. The film is a celebration of Selena’s short, but impactful, life and does not dwell on her murder by her fan club president, which is sensitively dealt with through a series of brief cutaways at the conclusion of the movie.
Jennifer Lopez delivers an outstanding performance as the Grammy-winning Tejano singer, whose rise in the music world is chronicled, from her early life performing in her parents' Mexican restaurant and at South Texas carnivals to her final performance before thousands at the Houston Astrodome and her impending release of an English language crossover album. Edward James Olmos also shines as Selena’s strict and sometimes over-protective, but always loving, father. Family conflicts are realistically presented in the film, but love is the thread that is woven throughout: Selena’s love for life, her family and her fans, and their love for her. I had not followed Selena’s music career before I saw this film, but this film fueled in me a desire to know more about her, and I have come to know the real Selena as a humble and giving person, just as she was portrayed in the film. Although Selena’s relationship with the Lord was not dealt with in the film, I have discovered, not surprisingly, that the real Selena was deeply religious.
“Selena” is a refreshingly clean and family-friendly film. There is only one brief instance where a minor offensive word is used, and there is no graphic violence or provocative sexual content. Not just for Selena’s fans, Selena is an inspiring and entertaining movie about a lovable, but not perfect, family, humility in the face of success, and the unique Mexican-American experience, and it showcases many of Selena’s musical numbers as well.
Year of Release—1997