Rudo Y Cursi Review

Quiero Que Me Quieras!
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Director: Carlos Cuarón
Notable Cast: Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna and Guillermo Francella

Gael García Bernal and Deigo Luna both had cross continental success with the Spanish film Y Tu Mamá También. Now, several years later with a handful of English language films and under their belt, they team up once more for Rudo y Cursi (roughly translated: Crude and Corny), a hilarious and moving story of brotherly love, brotherly hatred, soccer and Cheap Trick.

Tato (Bernal) and Beto (Luna) are half brothers (same mother, different fathers) that live in small village in Mexico harvesting Bananas and playing soccer. They argue all the time but will quickly defend one another from anyone else’s attacks. Their lives are turned upside down when soccer talent agent Batuta’s (Francella) car breaks down and they help him out. He watches their game and decides to represent one of them. Even though Beto has always dreamed of playing professional soccer while Tato really wants to sing, it is Tato who ends up going off to the big leagues leaving a very disgruntled Beto behind. However when Tato begins to garner some success he fights for his brother to join his ranks.

Now on different teams each quickly rises to the top of their game, each getting nicknames for their playing style: Beto is Rudo and Tato is Cursi. But things still aren’t perfect, Beto develops a dangerous gambling habit and Tato tries to push his music career by recording a mariachi style cover of Cheap Tricks “I Want You To Want Me” that no one but him and his superficial dream girl seem to enjoy. In classic sports film style, the film comes down to one final game, Beto’s team vs. Tato’s team and each brother has a lot to lose.

This is a wonderfully fantastic little film. Bernal and Luna are prefect together and their brotherly relationship is completely believable through the good and the bad. They were both superb in, También and their performances here really show how far they’ve both come. The film is narrated by Batuta and he provides many thoughts on life and family through an analogy of soccer and you don’t even have to be a fan of the sport to get it and enjoy it.

This film is direct by Carlos Cuarón, Alfonso Cuarón’s (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) brother, and he does a fantastic job. One thing that really struck me was the way all the soccer matches were portrayed. In most sports films, the game takes over the story and puts us right into the action of the game. Here the focus is on people’s reaction to what is happening and the film stays about the characters and refuses to get lost in the game.

When Batuta watches them the first time we don’t see the game at all, only Batuta watching the game and showing how impressed he is with their skills. Later when Batuta is trying to get Tato on a professional team we see Batuta and the coach talking about Tato and the coach asks, “Does he always have to do that when he scores?” It isn’t until later when we see him score his first professional goal that we see him dance and perform a series of flips, hence his nickname.

The film is a perfect blend of comedy and drama. There are many laugh out loud moments and the ending is one of the more gripping edge of your seat cinematic moments that I’ve witnessed in a long time.

In a season of summer blockbusters, sequels, prequels, remakes and reimaginings, it’s wonderfully refreshing to see a well acted, well directed, finely scripted film that hits all of your core emotions. It doesn’t matter if you speak Spanish, it doesn’t matter if you like soccer, you really owe it to yourself to find a movie theater that is playing this film and see it.

And if that’s not enough to convince you, let me remind you; you get to hear and see Gael García Bernal sing “I Want You To Want Me!” That should be reason enough in of itself.


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