The action is set in Falfurrias, New Mexico, a sleepy community boasting a population of 73. Our hero is Isidor Navarro (José Zúñiga) , who is the proprietor of the town’s only restaurant Tortilla Heaven. Falfurrias is a tight knit community centered around church and family, in many ways an idyllic, but poor existence.
One Sunday morning Isidor makes a batch of tortillas in readiness for the after church crowd. Unfortunately things are not going well with his dough, and he is frustrated, not just with the dough, but with his life in general. He makes the best Mexican food for many miles around, maybe the best food in the whole of New Mexico, but few people eat at Tortilla Heaven, because Falfurrias is 3 miles from the highway, and there is only a dirt road, a pinche, and few travelers want to make the dusty trek. “Jesus pinche Christ”, Isador shouts, his frustrations peaking.
The tortilla that he makes burns in a unique way, a picture of Jesus is formed on it. Not being a seeker of fame Isidor tries to keep the tortilla a secret, but secrets are hard to keep in a town with a population of 73. The news spreads like wildfire, everyone wants to see the tortilla with the picture.
Falfurrias becomes a very popular place, the opportunities to become rich are everywhere. Everyone has an angle, everyone wants to own this tortilla that can change the fortunes of the town, the Mayor thinks that the profits should be used to build a golf course, the local priest Father Pancacio (Marcelo Tubert) declares “Jesus Christ is the registered trademark of the Roman Catholic Church!”.
Isidor creates a shrine for the tortilla in a regrigerator and starts charging people $3 to view it, “a dollar for the Father, a dollar for the Son, and a dollar for the Holy Ghost,” he explains.
Luckily (or unluckily) for Isidor, help arrives in the shape of Gil Garcia (Miguel Sandoval), Management Consultant, attorney at law, and all round con man. Gil is the man that can take control of the situation. Gil can show Isidor, and the other 72 residents how they can all become rich, simply “sign on the dotted line”.
Needless to say chaos ensues as the protagonists lose their family values in search of the almighty dollar.
Judy Hecht Dumontet has created a very fine movie, the camera work is very well done, and the scenery is spectacular. Miguel Sandoval is nothing short of brilliant as Gil Garcia, he is slick, and he exudes all that is bad in the world. Tortilla Heaven has a PG-13 rating because of some very brief nudity, however I would classify this as a movie that anyone could enjoy. It opens in theaters on March 16th . There is a very well done web site to accompany the movie, and it has some interesting articles and also the trailer.
My wife and I both enjoyed watching Tortilla Heaven, so we give it ‘two thumbs up’.