Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Rudo y Cursi (2008)

Alfonso Cuarón's Y tu Mamá También was a masterclass in the juxtaposition of light and dark, of goofy comedy with underlying anguish. His brother Carlos has attempted a similar blend here, but at times only achieves a rather uncomfortable clash.

The action hinges on two penalty kicks and a confusion between audience right and stage right. The result of the first will lift a pair half-brothers out of the life of plantation workers in Cihuatlan, while the result of the second will...

Well, that would be a spoiler, but the interesting thing about this second penalty is that I believe it would have been possible to deliver a satisfactory conclusion to this story even if it had gone the other way.

Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal are clearly enjoying their roles, perhaps a bit too obviously at times, hamming up their regional accents and the signature traits which have earned their characters their nicknames. I like them both, but it's clear from this material why García Bernal has become the bigger international star, so perhaps there's another level of playfulness in the way Cuarón has scripted the comparative trajectories of the pair here.

This is yet another film about soccer where no previous knowledge or interest is required and Cuarón has been quite careful to deny us any real match action. In spite of this, one of Roger Ebert's take-outs from the movie was the following admission:

"I am gradually discovering that soccer is superior to American football: quicker, more athletic, depending on improvisation more than planning. In South and Central America, where American baseball has been embraced, soccer is a way of life. A movie like "Rudo y Cursi" helps explain why: One day, peons on a banana plantation; the next day, playing for the big bucks in Mexico City. Just bring your shorts, your shoes, your shirt and your ability. No shoulder pads."

PPS: V rather memorably described her experience of this movie as a journey along a road in which one passes a number of interesting-looking places only to finally arrive Jocotenango.

Grade: B + (+)

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