ninth symphony films - movie reviews


DIRECTOR  -  vincent j. miller

RATED  -  r

GENRE  -  drama

LENGTH  -  93 minutes

RELEASED  -  15 march 2001

DISTRIBUTOR  -  power point films

OFFICIAL SITE  -  gabriela

gabriela - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from gabriela at

buy the dvd from gabriela  at

a man falls in love with a woman who's engaged.

made $63,706.00 its opening weekend on 11 screens.


picture from gabriela

picture from gabriela

picture from gabriela


two out of four possible stars

Whether a film should be “let off the hook” from concerns like good direction, decent cinematography, and enjoyable performances is a moot point as far as Gabriela is concerned, because this independently financed feature has none of them. While mistakes like bad cinematography and excessively long sequences of dialogue don’t doom a picture entirely, the lack of appreciable intelligence in any of the characters is much more the death knell on the life of this film. Beginning with the strange filters used in the camera work, it’s quite a job to just sit back and watch the film, because the characters look so foggy.

Perhaps “foggy” is the wrong word. The video camera-like visuals of the film might be the result of digital camera use, but it doesn’t necessarily have to look like it was made with one. In any case, the murky look of the film doesn’t add atmosphere; it adds annoyance. Just like the musical score. Which sounds like a mix between the music from a soft-core pornography film and a docudrama on NBC. This daytime soap opera mentality of the picture doesn’t end with the soggy music and faded visuals though. It extends wholeheartedly into the performances as well.

With a mostly inexperienced cast, the director of Gabriela attempts to tell the story with a hearty amount of staid dialogue and an overall script which wanders into lame territory quite often. First there are the conversations between characters, which do nothing to advance the plot and are usually located in hard to justify locations. Like the scene between main character, "Mike," played by Jaime Gomez, and his best friend, "Pat," played by Zach Galligan, where the two converse about women and relationships amidst a fountain of annoying balloon streamers. This single scene is probably the most annoying in any film of recent memory.

It takes place in a room in the psychiatric hospital where the two characters work, where they are currently decorating for a party. While the cinematographer and director might have thought the awful location combined with the less than stellar dialogue would make for high drama, the scene doesn’t really advance the film and as something that the audience has to look at for a few minutes longer than it should, it represents a large failing for the filmmakers. In point of fact, a large amount of the scenes in the film look as though they should have been cut altogether.

And other scenes seem to have been left out completely. The relationship between the main characters, quite possibly the most important element of the film, seems to flutter by from an introduction between the two to full blown true love with no scenes involving the process of falling in love in between. It’s like “Mike” notices "Gabriela," played by Seidy Lopez, and thinks she’s a beautiful women and then he talks about it with his buddy “Pat” for at least forty-five minutes until all of a sudden, Mike and Gabriela are in love.

And then after they are ruthlessly torn apart, the weepy sentimentalism is just too emotional to be convincing. The bad cinematography and rather annoying music aside, the performances don’t cast the brightest light on the film either. Perhaps it’s the dull and unrealistic dialogue that the actors have to say. Maybe their performances would have been more believable if the script sounded even as believable as a daytime soap opera. Though daytime television is usually very sentimental, at least the melodrama is convincing. Unlike the dramatics in this film.

Gabriela should be considered a good effort in independent filmmaking, but it is not something which could compete dramatically with mainstream pictures, because each element of the film has been put together without a lot of expertise. While it is true the film sometimes resembles a feature film, it is much more a practice run than a really professional movie. The effort is there, but the creativity and expertise is missing. With fewer filters on the camera, some snippy dialogue, and a better eye for set decoration, these filmmakers might have a future. But not yet, not with Gabriela.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

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