Book Review: Behind Bella

In the opening scene of Bella, there is a gorgeous view of the ocean surf with seagulls crying overhead. Eduardo Verastegui’s resonant accent is heard in a voice over, saying, “My mother always told me, ‘If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.’” This quote could well have come from Eduardo’s mother in real life, who while despairing over his wild lifestyle as a pop singer and soap opera star in Mexico, said, “my prayers will touch his heart one day, even if my words cannot.” Tim Drake’s book Behind Bella tells the fascinating story of how this mother’s prayer changed not only her son’s life, but also that of thousands of others. The film Bella began and ends with a mother’s tender love.

At seventeen, Eduardo Verastegui left his home on the Mexican-Texas border to find fame and fortune in Mexico City. He sang with a boy band touring sixteen countries and was on various Mexican soap operas, where his fame — combined with his mesmerizing blue eyes — earned him the nickname “the Brad Pitt of Mexico.” Pursuing the North American market, Eduardo went to Miami to record an English language album when a Hollywood agent told him to audition for the film “Chasing Papi.” It was about a man exhausted from seeing three women at once, hardly a family oriented film, however Verastegui was about to meet someone who would forever change his life.

God had heard the prayers of his mother, and sent Eduardo an English language coach, Jasmine O’Donnell, who would challenge the quality of the film projects he was doing, as well as challenging his lifestyle, bringing him to a reversion to the Catholicism of his childhood. Fueled with the grace of the sacraments, Verastegui sought to make films, which would positively influence the culture. He changed agents and turned down many offers in Hollywood. “I promised God that I would never again use my talents in any project that would offend my faith, family, or Latino culture, “said Verastegui.

“Ever since the 1940’s Latinos have been cast as thieves, drunks, or Latin-lovers. I realized for the first time that I might not be a movie star. I thought it was the end of my life.’” Far from the end, it was a new beginning. Soon he would team up with fellow Latino Catholics in the entertainment industry, Leo Severino and Alejandro Monteverde, and it wasn’t long till “the three amigos” found the project they were seeking: a life-affirming story about a woman in a crisis pregnancy which would uplift audiences, challenging them to love more deeply, believe more intensely, and forgive more readily.

How does the making of a film become even more compelling as the film itself? When God is the architect of the plans, and the participants consult Him at every turn. Then miracles can and do happen, as Tim Drake faithfully relates in Behind Bella. The compelling narrative describes the beginning of Metanoia Films, through the production of the film and the support Bella garnered from leaders in the political world; such as Governor Jeb and President George Bush and entertainment industry legends Kathie Lee Gifford and Tony Bennett. But the influence of Bella reached far beyond the powerful. Drake describes in tender detail Bella’s life changing effect on the individual viewers. To date, nearly thirty babies were born because their parents were inspired by this film. Many of these precious babies were saved from abortion. Drake calls them “Bella babies.”

Behind Bella is a coffee table book with deeply personal photography of the Bella stars in reflective moments, stills from the film, and an array of group photos with celebrities including both Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI. The story of how the film Bella was born is a powerful phenomenon, which Tim Drake has movingly captured for posterity, so that it will continue to inspire artists to offer their talents to promote the Culture of Life.


Mother to three daughters and a Literature instructor, Leticia has always loved writing, good literature, and classic films. She became a blogger in 2006, and began to include film reviews on her blogs, Causa Nostrae Laetitiae, and Cause of Our Joy Suddenly Leticia was thrust into the world of film criticism when Eric Sheske of the National Catholic Register mentioned her blog as a source for Catholic film reviews. The next day, an invitation arrived to attend a film premiere in Hollywood, which she accepted, and a film critic was born. Leticia began Catholic Media Review to guide parents in their decisions on whether to let their children see a particular film. She also promotes independent family films like “Bella”, and “Fireproof” so that they can reach a larger audience. Her goal is nothing less than a transformation of the culture to what Pope John Paul II called a “Culture of Life”. She realizes that the pivotal role the media has to play in this transformation, and is determined that those who would defame Christ’s message do not have the last word. She writes film and book reviews for the following publications: MercatorNet, Catholic Exchange, Catholic Online, and “National Catholic Register”. Her reviews have been posted at the websites of Reuters, IMBD, USA Today, Chicago Sun-Times, and various TV news stations.

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