Friday, June 12, 2009
Rudo y Cursi
Directed by: Carlos Cuaron
Written by: Carlos Cuaron
Starring: Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna, Guillermo Francella, Adriana Paz, Jessica Mas.
My rating: 9/10
The first film from the newly formed Cha Cha Cha Productions, consisting of Mexico’s finest filmmakers Alfonso Cuaron, Guillermo del Toro and Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu, Rudo y Cursi is a hugely enjoyable warm-hearted genre piece which re-teams the writer and stars of Y Tu Mama Tambien, Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna.
Though, admittedly, not my greatest area of interest, there is always something very engaging about the sports movie. This film is a shining example of the genre. It tells the story of two poor country brothers, Tato and Beto. Tato dreams of becoming a pop star and Beto dreams of becoming a goalie. However, when Tato gets picked up, by random happenstance, by a soccer talent scout, Beto is horrified. Tato sees it as an opportunity to become famous and therefore get a record deal. Soon afterwards, Beto is given a shot at being a pro at a different club and they both become soccer sensations. Trials and tribulations ensue and the whole film builds up towards the inevitable climactic game with everything riding on it; brother versus brother.
On some level this is an entertaining rags-to-riches story like all the other ones that have come before it. But there is a deeper level of sentiment at work here that allows the audience to engage fully with these characters and love them and hate them as necessary. The tragedy of simple men being seduced and quickly destroyed by fame is examined here, and to great effect due to the nicely rounded characters and undeniable chemistry between the two lead actors.
Writer and director Carlos Cuaron (who co-wrote Y Tu Mama Tambien) does a fantastic job here. There is not a superfluous scene in the piece and the dialogue is not only hilarious but also snappy and natural. The screenplay flows along so nicely that by the time the film ends, you wonder where the two hours went and feel sad to be leaving these characters.
A major problem with the film, particularly as a genre piece, is its lack of actual football footage. Most of the football is off-screen for some reason, perhaps the actors just aren’t very good footballers. This hampers the excitement and the build-up of the third act somewhat. It is a huge pity because with so much invested in the characters, it seems a shame to take the excitement down a peg by not showing the matches. This is however merely a tiny problem in an otherwise splendid film.
This is an impossible film to dislike. Devoid of sentimentality yet consistently heart-warming throughout, the lead and supporting characters light up the scenes throughout with subtle quirks and elegant tragedies. As dark as the story can sometimes get, it is never bleak, and always rousing. What more could one want from a summer popcorn movie?
- Charlene Lydon