Writer-Director Julio Quintana’s sophomore film ‘Blue Miracle’ is a simple, cheesy, sentimental, but ultimately well-made film.
Set in 2014 in Cabo San Lucas in Mexico, home to the biggest fishing competition in the world, Blue Miracle tells an under-reported uplifting true story.
Blue Miracle follows Omar Venegas (Jimmy Gonzales), the founder of Casa Hogar, an orphanage he runs with his wife, Rebecca (Fernanda Urrejola), housing and caring for tens of children.
The film begins with Omar trying to help out Moco (Miguel Angel Garcia), a teenager who stole a watch and got in trouble with the police. To make things right, Omar takes Moco to return the watch to its owner who happens to be Captain Wade Malloy (Dennis Quaid), a washed-up arrogant American fisherman. Wade takes immense pride in being the only two-time winner of the Bisbee Black and Blue fishing competition, the biggest fishing competition in the world.
Meanwhile, taking care of the children becomes difficult for Omar when a few donors back out leaving him unable to pay back the loan of 117,000 USD he took from the bank. In hopes of getting more time to pay back his loans, Omar goes to the influential Wayne Bisbee (Bruce McGill), the organiser of the Bisbee Black and Blue fishing competition.
Bisbee is troubled by a recent hurricane that caused several international participants to back off. To encourage local participation, he waives the entry fees for locals. As luck would have it, Wade Mallory, who is also cash strapped, tries to talk Bisbee into letting him participate for free at the same time Omar is visiting.
On Bisbee’s advice, Wade teams up with the unprepared and inexperienced Omar and the kids from the orphanage to win the competition.
Jimmy Gonzales plays the lead, Omar. Omar himself became an orphan when he lost his father at the tender age of eight in a fishing accident and had to fend for himself in the ruthless streets of Mexico. He is excellent at handling the children and loves all of them dearly. Gonzales is charming, lovable and has excellent chemistry with the children.
Dennis Quaid plays the arrogant Captain Wade. Wade is self righteous, self centered and difficult to be around. Quaid’s performance makes the audience empathise with a character like Wade who is easily the most ill natured character in the film. He gives an excellent performance and delivers all of Wade’s struggles.
Miguel Angel Garcia plays Moco. Moco is raised on the streets because his parents are neglectful. Garcia plays a typical jaded teenager and does not give much of a performance. The audience is unable to connect with his character partly because of the thin writing but also because of the shallow performance
The other children in the orphanage are excellent. Hollywood (Nathan Arenas), Wiki (Isaac Arellanes) and Geco (Anthony Gonzalez) have a playful and fun chemistry together. The youngest of the bunch, Tweety (Steve Gutierrez) is also a treat to watch.
Blue Miracle could easily have been a below-average forgotten film buried in Netflix’s endless catalogue but it is the direction by Julio Quintana that sets it apart. The direction is one of its strongest elements.
The cinematography by Santiago Benet Mari is surprisingly excellent. A film as by the books as Blue Miracle could have worked with even simpler shots but Mari makes the film better.
One of the most striking elements of the film is its visual style. It is bright and vivid colours that reflect the mood and state of the characters. Blue Miracle, true to its title, is overwhelmingly blue. The precise production design further illustrates the visual style of the film.
To contrast with the blue, the film uses red in moments of dilemmas and moments of darkness in the lives of the characters.
The climax of the film has also been edited exceptionally well to increase the tension and release by switching between the timelines.
The film follows tropes, character archetypes and conventional story arc for all the characters but it has all been done as well as it can, making Blue Miracle highly effective.
Julio Quintana does not try to push the envelope in Blue Miracle like he did in his previous film, The Vessel (2016).
The film is predictable at every step of the way. Even though the arcs are well done, the unsurprising nature of the film does hurt it a lot by taking away all stakes.
This also results in some moments being far too cheesy and convenient. The film especially falters in the scenes between Moco and Omar both because of the writing and Garcia’s performance.
Blue Miracle is a cliched, unsurprising faith based film but it is also uplifting, feel-good and well made. It will not lead to theological or philosophical discussions, but it will definitely bring you respite in these trying times.