Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Movie Review: Rudo Y Cursi

Rudo Y Cursi ***
Directed By:
Carlos Cuaron.
Written By: Carlos Cuaron.
Starring: Gael García Bernal (Tato), Diego Luna (Beto), Guillermo Francella (Batuta), Dolores Heredia (Elvira), Adriana Paz (Toña), Jessica Mas (Maya), Salvador Zerboni (Jorge W), Tania Esmeralda Aguilar (Nadia), Joaquín Cosio (Arnulfo), Alfredo Alfonso (Don Casimiro).

There is a reason why soccer is apparently the most popular sport in the world. All you need to play it is a ball. Think of all the equipment you need to play baseball, football or hockey – hell even basketball you need a hoop – and it’s no wonder that in even the poorest countries in the world they love soccer.

Rudo Y Cursi tells the story of two brothers, Tato (Gael Garcia Bernal) and Beto (Diego Luna) who work in Mexico on a banana plantation. They share a mother, but not a father, and are polar opposites in terms of personality. Tato is more irresponsible – he spends his money drinking, and dreams of crossing the border and becoming a Latin singing star – and nothing, not even his lack of talent – seems to be able to stand in his way. Beto is more mature and responsible. He has been promoted to foreman on the banana plantation, and has a wife and a few kids.

One day, while they are playing soccer, a talent scout stops and watches them play. Although they live out in the middle of nowhere, the talent scout watches them because his car has broken down, and he needs to kill some time. He is impressed with Tato’s scoring ability, and by Beto’s ferociousness in net. Soon both of them have been whisked away to Mexico City where they become soccer stars almost overnight, but on different teams. Things go right, until they go horribly wrong.

Both brothers could be real stars in the league if they were not brought down by their faults. For Tato, who becomes known as Cursi (which apparently means cornball) because of his celebrations when he scores, he gets drawn into the hype of being famous. The money, the fame, the girls – he even gets an opportunity to record a song and music video – an hilarious Spanish version of Cheap Trick’s “I Want You To Want Me”. He gets so caught up in being famous, he forgets to concentrate on soccer, and becomes mired in a slump – which of course makes the fans turn against him. Beto becomes known as Rudo (which means fierce), and he quickly becomes the best goalie in the league, of the verge of breaking a shutout record. But Beto has always had trouble with gambling, losing his wife’s blender even back in his days on the banana plantation, and now that he has more money, he simply loses more. He gets into debt with some people you do not want to be in debt to.

Through it all, Batuta (Guillermo Francella), the talent scout who becomes their agent, narrates their story with a jovial honesty. We expect him to reveal himself to be a slime ball simply taking advantage of these two young, naïve men, and although that’s part of it, we never really stop liking him. He simply knows how the system works, and exploits it to the best of his ability. If things go right, then everybody wins. But if things go wrong, he wants to ensure that it isn’t him who is going to take the fall.

The film was written and directed by Carlos Cuaron, who along with his brother Alfonso wrote the screenplay for Y Tu Mama Tambien, a movie that brought Garcia Bernal and Luna to everyone’s attention in the first place. Like in that film, Luna and Garcia Bernal show a real chemistry together. They get the sibling relationship just right. It’s a mixture of love and hate, and they each know precisely what to do to get under the other guys skin. They carry the movie on their backs. But that is pretty much where the similarities between the two movies end. Y Tu Mama Tambien was a serious, brilliant movie, whereas Rudo Y Cursi is just disposable entertainment – a couple hours of fun for a Saturday night. There is nothing wrong with that. What Rudo Y Cursi does, it does quite well. Yes, it drags on a little too long, and it does give way to too many clichés at times, but overall the film is quite good. Not every film has to be serious to be good.

No comments:

Post a Comment