Bless Me, Ultima

Rated 4.0

Ends Thursday, March 7. Writer-director Carl Franklin and a lively cast of relative unknowns bring a rich layer of understated poetry to this spirited film version of Rudolfo Anaya’s much-admired novel. The Ultima of the title is a curandera, a traditional healer, and her blessing is conferred, in increasingly dramatic circumstances, upon Antonio, a precocious youngster who seems destined for soulful endeavors. The landscape of eastern New Mexico, beautifully rendered in the cinematography of Paula Huidobro, is central to the earthy spirituality emerging in Antonio. Miriam Colón, glowing with calm passion as Ultima, and Dolores Heredia, a shining presence as Antonio’s mother, are the only familiar faces in the cast, but a half-dozen other distinctive character actors make sharp contributions to the quasi-religious culture clash that erupts when Ultima arrives in Antonio’s village. Paradise Cinemas 7. Rated PG-13.