Film Review: Rudo y Cursi (Spoilers)

I loved this film. Not just because it was so well written, nor because it was so well acted. ‘Rudo y Cursi’ draws on Mexican culture, which is as much a player in this film as stars Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna. I must confess I didn’t know what to think before arriving at the cinema – was it a comedy? A spoof even? Would the humour translate? The answer was far more complicated – it is indeed a comedy, but also very much a tragedy and a morality play, all wrapped up in one. And writer/director Carlos Cuarón skilfully has you never quite knowing how it is going to end, despite its light touch.

Tato (Bernal, above) and Beto (Luna) are two half brothers eager to make it big. Tato is a genius football striker, Beto a flawless goalkeeper and they indeed get discovered by a sleazy talent scout with a heart of gold. Eager to make his own fortunes he throws the boys into the big time in Mexico City, where all their dreams come true. Tato, quickly nicknamed Cursi, hooks up with a supermodel and plays for his country. Beto, nicknamed (you guessed it) Rudo rapidly becomes the country’s greatest goalkeeper, and it gets him into all the best parties where he can indulge his love of gambling. Tato in turn much prefers singing, and influences his way to a hit record. But fame is transitory, the distractions are many and both boys end up on self-destructive paths. Will Tato get his mojo back? Will Beto escape the gangsters? By bouncing gently between morality play and comedy you never really know.

The acting I must say is sublime – Bernal is beautiful and charismatic, and plays Tato with an innocence, and flawed sense of integrity. He as Luna risks becoming a stereotype at multiple points through the movie, yet both walk a more intelligent path with their performances. The ending could have been soppy, yet Luna takes that moment to show Beto’s true strength of character, which comes all-too-late. You get the sense that these characters are very real, and in only 100 minutes director Cuarón brings you into their very richly detailed world, from their relationships to their families, to their extended families. It’s rare to have such an eye to detail in modern filmmaking and it lifts ‘Rudo y Cursi’ above most other fare. So the voiceover is questionable, but it does add a positive tone to the film’s darker undercurrent. It’s an intelligent piece of work and I couldn’t recommend it more highly. 9/10

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