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Overall Rating

Awesome: 31.58%
Worth A Look: 31.58%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 0%

3 reviews, 1 rating

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Rudo and Cursi
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by Slyder

"Brotherly Love and the Love for Futbol Soccer"
5 stars

Three of the best filmmakers to come out of Mexico in recent years (Alejandro Gonzales Iñárritu, Guillermo Del Toro and Alfonso Cuarón) team up with the 2 big superstars of recent years from said country and help produce and star respectively in the film created by the brother of one of those filmmakers. Alfonso Cuarón has established himself as one of the leading filmmakers in Mexican history, and now his brother Carlos has gone out to try and prove himself as well that he has also the talent to create a movie. Cuarón has already tasted success after co-writing with his brother the highly acclaimed Y Tu Mamá También, so after this he went and made this film, a mostly funny and sometimes tragic, but completely entertaining rumination about the bonds of love and soccer which dominate so many aspects of a majority of Mexican life.

In the rural part of Mexico, two brothers, Tato (Gael García Bernal) and Beto (Diego Luna) work on a banana plantation during the week, and on the weekends, they play as attacker and goalie for their team respectively. When a talent scout called Batuta (Guillermo Francella) suddenly spots both brothers, he offers one of them a deal to a first division team. Tato is the one that comes out on top to the anger and dismay of Beto who is known in the village as "Rudo" for his rough but fair playing style. As Tato ascends to the majors and earns the nickname "Cursi" (Corny), Batuta doesn’t forget about Beto and also offers him a deal, to which Beto, despite some friction at home with his wife, takes with both hands determined to catch up to his brother. Despite the fact that both long to help their dear mother out of the slums and built her a better house for her to live in, both brothers are constantly tempted by their personal reckless indulgences and vices to which may ultimately end up costing their careers and maybe their livelihoods.

Cuarón manages to bring us a true slice of Vida Mexicana to the screen. The hot and sunny forests and the nearby beach in which the brother’s village lies in between, contrast with the cold, urban landscapes of Mexico City; a maze of highways, bridges, and buildings housing everything from glamour to parties and seedy outlets that hide gambling and drug businesses. As the brothers reach their dreams come true, the stakes of staying ahead slowly begin to target them and reel them in. Tato is determined not only to succeed in soccer but also to launch a singing career, and marry the woman in the game shows that he used to jack off to, but his flaws are revealed deep within his naiveté about how show business is run in the City. Beto is more aggressive in nature and tries to become the model husband and father to his independent wife, while at the same time perfecting his game in the goalpost, but his flaws are also revealed in his addiction of gambling and even hard drugs.

Though Beto and Tato are the main characters, the character of Batuta plays an equally important part on the movie. Not only does his insightful, funny and at times striking narration guides us through the brother’s highs and subsequent lows, but he also manages to anchor the movie and the brother’s actions through the passionate lens of soccer. For almost all Mexicans, soccer is not only the main sport of Mexico, but it’s also a way of life which can reap rewards to the most talented of players but also destroy and crush the dreams of others who fail to make the grade or simply get caught napping at one point or another, due to its pressure-cooker type of nature. Perks can come up left and right to the delight of one, but so do the vices. Rabid fans will worship you to the same heights as God himself, yet at the same time they'll curse you and even threaten you with your life if you dare let them down. Challenges lay abound and it’s a challenge all by itself to hit the limelight and a completely different challenge to try and stay there. Cuarón manages to catch the spirit and the fast-paced and almost plastic-like lifestyle of a soccer star while never shying away from the pitfalls that lay all over the road that both brothers are traveling.

If there is one drawback however, is the fact that Cuarón never manages to show completely the action on the field, and only relies on second-hand observations in order to tell the audience what the hell is it that’s happening. Though this can be attributed to budget or the physical capabilities of the actors, this decision by Cuarón hampers the film somewhat for obvious reasons. I mean, think about it; why make say, a baseball movie without showing little to almost no baseball action at all? It makes absolutely no sense. Nevertheless the dramatic and comedic moments make up for most of the problem as well as the engaging performances of the three leads. Both Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal shine in this film and their performances manage to get the film chugging along at an entertaining pace. Guillermo Francella is also a major important asset to the movie and his narrative work as well as his performance brings out a rather mischievous and insightful quality into his character, not to mention that he can be truly hilarious in the process.

By film’s end, the tragic and sad ending reflects the price paid by all in life in their quest for their dreams that unfortunately got caught in one of the many voids in the road to that dream, just like the fans who suffer the painful losses whenever their teams drop the ball. Just as baseball can be seen as a metaphor for life here in the US, soccer is also a metaphor for life not only in Mexico, but also in most if not all of South America. One ultimately has to learn from the most bitter of mistakes and put it behind oneself in order to get back and progress with whatever remains of one’s character back into a worthy life. After all, it’s all for the love of the game, and one ain’t necessarily talking about sports. 4.5-5

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originally posted: 05/09/09 05:58:47
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Sundance Film Festival For more in the 2009 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Tribeca Film Festival For more in the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Philadelphia Film Festival For more in the 2009 Philadelphia Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Edinburgh International Film Festival For more in the 2009 Edinburgh International Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: Traverse City Film Festival 2009 For more in the Traverse City Film Festival 2009 series, click here.

User Comments

5/20/09 Bob Loft The author probably favors legalization of drugs. 3 stars
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  DVD: 25-Aug-2009


  DVD: 25-Aug-2009

Directed by
  Carlos Cuaron

Written by
  Carlos Cuaron

  Diego Luna
  Gael Garcia Bernal
  Guillermo Francella

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