Solid drama with nice dashes of humor, warmth and local color.

A family affair for several Bratt clan members, “La Mission” stars Benjamin Bratt as an ex-con single dad in San Francisco’s Latino Mission District who discovers his son is gay. Rather predictable in its major plot points and social-issue pleadings, the pic is better suited to cable than the bigscreen, but nonetheless offers solid drama with nice streaks of humor, warmth and local color.

Che Rivera (Bratt), a 46-year-old bus driver, remains the strutting, macho man of his troubled youth in spite of the fact he is now widowed, sober and post-slammer. Despite his tough veneer, he’s a loving dad to UCLA-bound honor student Jes (Jeremy Ray Valdez). But Jes has a secret life, and when pop discovers it by accident, he violently throws the kid out. They reconcile, but Che still can’t/won’t accept Jes’ nature, which homophobic school bullies have also noticed. Meanwhile, dad romances new neighbor Lena (Erika Alexander). Peter Bratt’s script is a little obvious, but his direction and thesps are pleasingly naturalistic. Star’s charisma is at full wattage; scenes with his fellow middle-aged lowriders are delightful. Pro package makes fine use of San Francisco locations.

La Mission

Production

A 5 Stick Films, TomKat Films production. Produced by Benjamin Bratt, Peter Bratt, Alpita Patel. Executive producers, Tom Steyer, Kat Taylor, Dan Nelson. Co-producer, Debbie Brubaker. Directed, written by Peter Bratt.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Hiro Narita; editor, Stan Webb; music, Mark Killian; production designer, Keith Neely. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (Spectrum), Jan. 21, 2009. Running time: 117 MIN.

With

Benjamin Bratt, Erika Alexander, Jeremy Ray Valdez, Jesse Borrego, Talisa Soto Bratt, Kevin Michael Richardson, Patrick D. Shining-Elk, Rene A. Quinonez, Ruben Gonzalez, Max Rosenak.

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