Modest fest exposure after pic's Sundance competition slot is unlikely to push its profile beyond limited cable play.

The realism of the struggle faced by a young female weightlifter is undone by a persistently trite script in “Benavides Born.” Though likely to elicit some interest due to its under-represented setting (the economically deprived southern Texas border region) and sport, the hard-scrabble drama habitually telegraphs its frequently contrived narrative conflicts as heroine Luz (newcomer Corina Calderon) gets deeper and deeper into trouble in her quest to succeed. Modest fest exposure after pic’s Sundance competition slot is unlikely to push its profile beyond limited cable play.

Displaying great promise as a powerlifter, Luz, a high-schooler and native of Texas border town Benavides, is encouraged by her coach (Julio Cesar Cedillo) but urged to not push past her reasonable weight limits. Her loving family hopes she can earn a scholarship to U. of Texas, but b.f. Raynaldo (Jeremy Ray Valdez) lures her into predictable hot water when he prods her to try performance-enhancing steroids. Many of Luz’s subsequent actions violate her stated core principles — the script is nothing if not on-the-nose — resulting in a dubious second half and an ending that beggars credibility.

Benavides Born

Production

A Kapok Pictures presentation. Produced by Daniel Meisel, Susan Kirr. Executive producers, Hall Wendel, Todd Barnes. Directed by Amy Wendel. Screenplay, Daniel Meisel, Wendel.

Crew

Camera (color, DV), Rob Hauer; editor, Andres Santamaria; music, Kevin Afflack; music supervisor, Annette Fradera; production designer, Jade Healy; costume designer, Amy Maner. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (competing), Jan. 23, 2011. Running time: 95 MIN.

With

Corina Calderon, Jeremy Ray Valdez, Joseph Julian Soria, Julia Vera, Julio Cesar Cedillo, Julian Works, Leticia Magana. (English, Spanish dialogue)

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