Just as monochromatic as the walls of Casa Hogar, Gonzales’ Omar is cornered into one-dimensional simplicity. The character doesn’t have the charisma of Edward James Olmos’ Jaime Escalante in “Stand and Deliver,” but rather a compassionate gentleness that’s momentarily refreshing, but prevents the role from accessing darker mental states.
With clear religious undertones, Omar remains an inert and sanctimonious entity. Though a throwaway scene with Hector (Raymond Cruz), an old criminal friend, tries to reframe Omar’s identity as more intricate, the brief encounter reveals nothing and only serves to hammer in his righteous moral stance. Gonzales, an actor that exudes hard-earned wisdom with a long career but few lead parts, is shortchanged here in the limited range explored.
The problem isn’t that this concept has been reworked to death, but that Quintana and co-writer Chris Dowling (the scribe behind Christian dramas such as “Run the Race” and “Priceless”) fail to mold it into a winning catch. Judging by their previous work it seems that the faith element took precedence to character development.
“The Way Back,” for example, another recent release that walked a nearly identical narrative line, at least functioned as a vehicle for Ben Affleck to dive into a male protagonist with a rich inner life. Or consider the oeuvre of Iranian director Majid Majidi, who has been telling stories about young people facing poverty for decades. His latest, “Sun Children,” deals with orphans in a school that needs money to survive. The essence is relatively the same, yet the intellectual sophistication outshines “Blue Miracle.”
There’s also a peculiar use of language in Quintana’s film. Instead of having the bulk of the dialogue be in Spanish with a few words in English—which would make sense since Cabo is in northern Mexico and is a hot spot for American tourism—the cast mostly speaks in English with interjections in Spanish that ring inorganic. Only the way that veteran Mexican actor Silverio Palacios, in the small part of Chato, communicates with the characters—in Spanish with the Mexican team and in English with Wade—makes sense.