Bless Me, Ultima

Rated 4.0

In rural New Mexico 1944, a small boy (Luke Ganalon) is taken under the wing of an old curandera, or healer (Miriam Colon in a wise performance), and through her, he learns to see the mysteries of the world and the struggle of good and evil lurking under the surface of things. Rudolfo Anaya's 1972 novel, an acknowledged modern classic, gets a strong filming by writer-director Carl Franklin. The cast is largely experienced unknowns (unseen narrator Alfred Molina is the closest thing to a star), but many faces are nevertheless familiar, conferring their familiarity on the movie and giving it the resonace of a folk tale. Even the occasional stiffness among the children underscores this resonance, as if they're delivering their recitations in a pageant presented by the curandera's open-air Sunday school.