At the beginning of Bella, handsome, dapper Jose (Eduardo Verástegui) is on top of the world. He is a young soccer star on the rise. A few years later, he's a taciturn, shaggy-haired chef at the upscale Mexican restaurant owned by his prickly brother Manny (Manny Perez). But what led Jose from point A to point B is only one small strand of the story. More important is the one fine New York day he spends with a complete stranger. When the striking waitress Nina (Tammy Blanchard) arrives late once again for her shift at the restaurant, Manny fires her on the spot and she runs out, distraught. Jose - who knows her only a little - gives chase in order to comfort her, offering the frazzled young woman a much-needed shoulder to cry on. Nina proceeds to blurt out all her troubles to the sensitive and attentive hunk - a hint: she was late because she's, um, late - so he decides to play hooky from the bustling kitchen to go for a walk around the city with her. The charming pair fall into an easy confidentiality over the course of their eventful day, but every so often one of them jolts upright with the awareness that they barely know each other. This is particularly apparent when they decide on a whim to go to the beach near Jose and Manny's parents' house in the suburbs. Within the colour and comfort of Jose's family home, Nina keenly feels she is missing the intimacy, support and, well, peace, that such a close family provides, and she makes a decision that is key to the enigmatic Jose's redemption. Although the elements of the story may seem familiar, there are many twists and turns in Bella, and the film charts the duo's blossoming relationship with a dynamic and casual rhythm. It is a credit to the freshness and vitality of writer and director Alejandro Monteverde's vision, and his engaging cast - especially the charismatic Verástegui as Jose - that we are grateful to go along for the ride.