Rudo y Cursi

20 Sep

Director: Carlos Cuaron (2008)

It would appear that the last three films I have watched have been in Spanish. Making the last four films all foreign language. What does this mean? That I am pretentious and only select films with subtitles, happy in the knowledge that any film with words at the bottom of the screen will immediately make me more interesting and avant garde? Quite possibly. Or maybe it is just the random selection of the people at that DVD rental place…Nonetheless, Rudo y Cursi is next.

Anyone who knows me will understand my predeliciton for Mexicans, most pertinently Gael Garcia Bernal, and the way Latin American films expertly masquerade soft-porn under the umbrella term of ‘art house’ and so one would think a film directed by the brother of Alfonso Cuaron of Y Tu Mama Tambien fame would satisfy both these criteron. However, the reality is this film is about football. And as mainstream as you are probably going to get from Mexican cinema, as the 3rd highest grossing film in Mexico.

And I hate football. This film is about football – more specifically two brothers from a small Mexican town who get scouted and are seduced by a man whose moustache is almost as impressive as his ever changing female companions in each scene, Batuta, and introduced to the heady highs and bruising lows of professional football in Mexico City.

It sees the reunion of Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna, whos onscreen ‘unions’ in Y Tu Mama Tambien, as directed by Carlos’ hermano Alfonso, remain forever stuck in our minds yet here, while their off screen friendship, dare I say bro-mance, clearly translates to the screen creating a primed buy-one-get-one-free deal for any director working with these two actors, for me there was something missing in this film.

Minimal sex scenes and Gael Garcia Bernal nudity aside, the youthful joy that enraptured audiences in these earlier films was lost in the harsh reality and juxtaposition of familial responsibility and the pipe dreams of the twenty-something man. Then again, the film is labelled as drama/comedy which for me is always something of an ambigious categorisation.  There are certainly moments of comedy but true to the norms of Mexican cinema, it is hard to ignore the ever present political undertones, here in the shape of drug lords, addiction and gambling. While the lack of gratuitious sex was mildly disappointing, I thought to mysef,  we have all seen enough of Mr Bernal’s penis throughout his filmography so perhaps I should resign myself to this light hearted, football romp (without the romp). Character wise Rudo y Cursi is a wonderful depiction of two brothers aiming towards the same dream amidst the familial traditions of rural Mexican culture; plot wise it is the standard underdog comes good and learns his lesson…a tad too late but learns it nonetheless.

I was trying to think why this film left me sadly nonplussed. Don’t get me wrong it is not bad, it is a great film…But seriously… Look at him. What is this? I used to love this man. Who am I kidding, I still do – but I just cannot get on a man in tassels.

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