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“Mi Familia” by Gregory Nava Essay

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Updated: Jun 15th, 2020

Mi Familia (1995) is an American movie that shows experiences that a Mexican family undergoes in a period of three generations. The movie centers on the experiences of the Mexican family by showing how family members shape their cultural identities from Mexicans to Americans.

Differences in cultural backgrounds of the Mexicans and Americans portray how the family members undergo cultural transition during the three generations. Since the characters in the movie are Mexicans, they highlight various aspects of Mexican culture, and further show how these aspects change from one generation to another (Nafus, 1995).

The first generation of the family migrates from Mexico to Los Angles and tries to uphold Mexican norms and traditions, while the second generation finds it impossible to uphold the Mexican culture in Los Angles. Therefore, the third generation starts to adopt American culture and acquire new norms and traditions. To enhance understanding of communication styles that are in the movie, this essay examines unique ways of how characters communicate.

The unique acts in the movie are the performances that characters make. Since Mi Familia has elements of romance, the characters in the movie dance to the Latin music in unique ways and dancing styles that are not common in Los Angles. Across the movie, characters exhibit cultural dancing styles that reflect Mexican culture. The Mexican culture is evident in the kind of music that the characters enjoy dancing to or listening to in the course of their romance.

In the movie, Isabel teaches Jimmy how to dance in the courtyard. According to Nafus (1995), seduces Jimmy in the courtyard by dancing. Such act of romance differs from other cultures in Los Angles. What is unique is that Isabel and Jimmy romantically dance to the Latin music in the courtyard, and thus surprising neighbors. Dressing code is also unique in the movie as it does not reflect the American culture, but portrays the Mexican culture.

The dressing code of the characters makes them to appear partly nude in the movie, which is unique about them. Among various love scenes in the movie, characters appear nude and passionate about their lifestyles. According to the American culture, the dressing code matters a lot in the family context, but in the movie, characters seem to dress as per their cultural predisposition.

James (1995) states that due to nudity and the use of suggestive language, the movie requires parents to accompany children under the age of 17 years when watching the movie. Thus, the explicit romance scenes reflect unique cultural norms and traditions of the Mexicans.

The characters in the movie also communicate in unique ways. Unlike in the American culture where communication is formal, the characters in the movie communicate casually. The family members express love and intimacy when communicating with one another, thus creating a favorable social environment where happiness prevails.

The movie depicts how the family, as a social system, can make life flourish in spite of the numerous challenges that family members experience (Lopez, 1995). Thus, love and intimacy are significant elements of the casual communication that make the family experience happiness across all the three generations.

From the movie, Mi Familia (1995), characters communicate in various styles that reflect their cultural backgrounds. The communication of romance is evident in the dancing styles, dressing code, and casual talk, which reflect Mexican culture. From the perspective of American culture, dancing styles, dressing code, and casual talk are unique and strange. Thus, characters in the movie portray unique communication styles that depict the Mexican culture.


James, C. (1995). Journey of Generations. Web.

Lopez, L. (1995). My Family, Mi Familia. Web.

Nafus, C. (1995). Mi Familia/My Family. Web.

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Further Study: FAQ

📌 When was Mi Familia filmed?

Mi Familia is a 1995 American movie shot by Gregory Nava. Nava spent four years trying to find funding for this project. Most studios in LA first considered the story non-profitable. The film, however, came out very successful and has become a classic.

📌 What is Mi Familia movie about?

Mi Familia tells a story of a Mexican immigrant family that moves to Los-Angeles in the 1930s. The epic features the experiences of three generations that are trying to make it in America. One of the film’s central topics is cultural identity, specifically a Chicano one.

📌 Who are the main Mi Familia characters?

The film’s main characters are Jose and Maria, a recently married immigrant couple. As their son Jimmy grows up, the film’s focus shifts to his storyline. Other characters include Paco, Irene, Guillermo, Chucho, and Toni.

📌 Who is the narrator in Mi Familia?

Paco, the oldest son in the family, is the film’s narrator. He describes the family’s journey from Mexico to the US, as well as the lives of its subsequent generations.

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