An autobiographical story based on the life of writer Esmeralda “Negi” Santiago, “Almost a Woman” follows the young Negi (Ana Maria Lagasca) as she adjusts to life in Gotham after moving from her native Puerto Rico. Pic does good job showing Negi’s culture shock, but drags in stretches, and despite some good scenes, listening to Lagasca pretend to speak English with a Spanish accent becomes grating. Pic is scheduled to run on PBS in September as part of Hispanic Heritage Month.
When Santiago’s mother (Wanda De Jesus) discovers her husband (Angelo Pagan) has a mistress, she moves the family from Puerto Rico to her mother’s (Miriam Colon) house in Brooklyn. Oldest daughter Negi, a bright child with an interest in poetry, struggles to learn English and fit in. When a school guidance counselor (Cliff DeYoung) hears Negi read poetry in Spanish, he recommends a transfer to a performing arts school for gifted students in Manhattan. She’s accepted, but as the stakes increase, she is further drawn away from her Puerto Rican culture.