Mi Lugar en el Sol
Screenplay by Alan Nafzger
In southern Mexico, Adelina de la Cruz has lost her home, her child to disease and her husband in an accident. She departs for America and spends days on a train moving north. She befriends another immigrant, Ricca Estévez, who dreams of reuniting in Texas with her young son Xalbador, who was sent to live in San Antonio with a wealthy Aunt. Ricca dies shortly before reaching America, and Adelina, seeing a way to a better life, uses Ricca’s papers to assume her identity.
Inside the United States , Adelina is stopped by the Border Patrol. She is interviewed by immigration attorney Carlos Gomez, who gets her a place in a camp for persons contesting their deportation. While waiting for her deportation hearing, she writes to Ricca’s Aunt Josefina in San Antonio, but receives a letter from Josefina’s lawyers that she has died. After a time, Adelina is released; there is an election and the President declares an amnesty if she has family in the United States.
Once released, Adelina (still going by the name of Ricca) is able to travel to Austin, where she meets with Xalbador’s guardian Orlando Mata, a distant relative of Josefina’s. “Ricca” intends to gain custody of “her” son, but it becomes clear that Josefina has left her popular restaurant to Xalbador when he comes of age. Orlando operates the restaurant and sometimes cooks. The “Mi Lugar” restaurant is downtown and near the Alamo; it is the largest and best located restaurant on the River Walk. The restaurant could potentially be worth tens of millions of dollars. Orlando’s brother manages a similar restaurant in Austin.
When Adelina (going by the name of Ricca) realizes that Orlando is attracted to her, she realizes that it will be easier to stay in America if she has an American husband. She allows him to romance her, and they soon marry. Orlando takes Ricca to San Antonio where Xalbador meets his “mother” for the first time, and she settles into Josefina’s mansion on in Alamo Heights, where Xalbador has lived with Orlando and his housekeeper/nanny, Valentina. Ricca occasionally works in the restaurant, for the most part to learn the business. But primarily she leads a life of luxury.
Things seem idyllic at first, but tensions begin to mount between Ricca and Valentina, who has not only raised Xalbador but is also in love with Orlando, and resents Ricca for intruding on her life. Ricca is also alarmed at the presence of a locked room, which Xalbador claims to have damaged with an explosion from his toy chemistry set. He and Valentina beg her not to tell Orlando, since Valentina never has, but Ricca is perplexed to discover that he already knows about it. Ricca is pleased, however, to meet Carlos Gomez again, learning he is an old schoolmate of her husband’s and is a partner for the law firm that handles Josefina’s affairs. He is clearly attracted to Ricca, but keeps a respectable distance.
Orlando and Ricca, have restaurants all over Texas and Orlando has learned to fly. He frequently flies between cities managing the restaurants. Orlando teaches Ricca a bit about flying and then encourages her to take lessons. Eventually Ricca gets her pilot’s license. Ricca begins to take a roll in managing the chain of restaurants.
Ricca investigates the locked room (that has been burned), but is surprised by Orlando while she is in there. Orlando appears to be alarmed by her suspicion and questions about the fire. It seems that the fire department was never called and Orlando and Valentina put out the fire.
Ricca also finds a badly damaged motor-sports helmet. Xalbador admits to his mother that he was involved in a serious go-kart accident. From the looks of the wrecked go-kart and the helmet it was an accident that he survived. Ricca becomes even more suspicious.
Soon after, the engine on Ricca’s plane fails. She escapes unharmed but suspects Valentina of tampering with the plane. When she realizes Xalbador was supposed to have been in the plane with her, Ricca comes to believe that Orlando is behind the accident, since if Xalbador dies Orlando will inherit Josefina’s chain of restaurants. With Carlos’s help she begins to investigate.
She learns that Carlos’s law firm, which supposedly sent her the letter regarding Josefina’s death, has no record of the letter being sent. She also grows significantly more paranoid that Orlando my be trying to kill her and Xalbador.
Ricca discovers an internet page (an obituary) in confirming that the letter was sent three days before Josefina’s death: it is a fake, and Orlando may have killed Josefina. She attempts to call Carlos but is prevented from doing so when Orlando arrives at the restaurant, and he does not let her out of his sight for the rest of the evening.
Every night before the restaurant closes, Orlando cooks the two of them a meal, she is sure her meal has been poisoned. When he briefly leaves the room, she attempts to call the police but can’t. Orlando returns to the table and coerces her into eating the meal, after which he eats his own. Thinking himself safe, he confesses to Josefina’s murder, and that he has given her an overdose of sedatives in her meal. Ricca tells him she has switched the plates and that he has poisoned himself. She is about to dial 911 but hands the phone to Valentina. Valentina and Xalbador have been at a movie and have only now returned to the restaurant. Orlando begs Valentina to call for help. Orlando has broken Valentina’s heart and he is clearly worried that she will not make the call. Realizing that he has tried to kill Xalbador as well as Josefina and Ricca, she refuses, and Orlando dies.
Valentina is arrested for refusing to aid Orlando, and it is indicated that she may be charged with his murder. Ricca, who has confessed her true identity to Carlos, but he loves her and they leave the restaurant together with Xalbador to begin a new life.
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