While Gerardo Naranjo’s 2011 film Miss Bala is an intense and well-made drama, it also has a significant flaw in its storytelling. Namely, the lead character, Laura Guerrero (Stephanie Sigman), is primarily a passive protagonist – moving through the narrative at the demands of others and not taking an active role in her survival through the danger. This is an element that is changed greatly in director Catherine Hardwicke’s upcoming remake, and I recently learned that was something star Gina Rodriguez was very much focused on in the making of the film. Said the actress,
This was a subject that I specifically brought up in conversation with Gina Rodriguez earlier this month during the Los Angeles press day for Miss Bala. Discussing her character, Gloria, and the dangerous horrific circumstances in which she finds herself in the film, I asked if there was a special point made of having the heroine do more to put her fate in her own hands. It turns out this was something that Rodriguez was very insistent about in the development of the story, and it ultimately had an effect on the way the plot moved.
Based on a script by Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer, Miss Bala centers on Gloria, a young Mexican-American woman, who travels south of the border in hopes of using her makeup skills to help her best friend, Suzu (Christina Rodlo), win a local beauty pageant. Things go horrifically wrong, however, when a night out clubbing is interrupted by an assassination attempt. At first Gloria is able to get away, though unable to find Suzu, but she is then captured by a local cartel leader named Lino (Ismael Cruz Cordova) and forced to cooperate with him – told that it will eventually lead her to being reunited with Suzu. As she gets roped into missions that are more and more dangerous, she starts to plan a way that she can regain her freedom and save her friend.
Danger is basically around every corner for Gloria in the film, and her motivation to stay alive and help her friend make it so that every choice is an important one. Taking into consideration the aforementioned “If this was a man, what would he do?” question wound up influencing these choices on a micro level, and let Gloria be an overall stronger character. Gina Rodriguez continued, saying,
As noted by the actress, it wasn’t exactly a challenge for Gina Rodriguez to get everybody to see her point of view because she was working with people who had similar thoughts and perspective. This very much included Catherine Hardwicke, who I also had the pleasure of sitting down with during the Miss Bala press day. The director specifically referenced the inaction of Laura in the 2011 movie, and from the very start of her involvement made a point of having her vision for the feature be different in that arena. Said Hardwicke,
The strength of Gloria as a protagonist was clearly something that was very important to Gina Rodriguez, but another aspect of the film that the actress very much appreciated is that it didn’t choose to whitewash the story. The movie being an American remake of a Mexican-made feature, few familiar with Hollywood patterns would have been truly surprised if the ethnicity of the characters and locations of the story had been changed – but that wasn’t this reimagining’s prerogative. Instead, as Rodriguez stressed, it was seen as a proper opportunity to be not just a female-driven action movie, but one with a Latina hero. Said the actress,
You can watch Gina Rodriguez discuss the empowerment of Gloria and her influence on the development of Miss Bala by clicking play on the video below.
Also starring Anthony Mackie, Miss Bala will be hitting theaters everywhere this weekend – going into wide release on Friday, February 1st. Check your local listings and find a proper screening, and be sure to stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for more from my interview with Catherine Hardwicke in the next few days.
NJ native who calls LA home; lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran; endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.
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