Rewind Review- Rudo y Cursi (2008)

As those who know me, and if such a person exists, cyberstalk me, know I created this blog after writing on another site, which shall remain nameless, for a while. The point is, I have material sitting around waiting to be re-used on occasion I will re-post them here. Some of those articles or reviews may have been extemporaneous at the time but are slightly random now, hence the new title and little intro, regardless enjoy!

Rudo y Cursi is the feature length directorial debut of Carlos Cuarón, brother of Alfonso Cuarón. It tells the tale of two brothers who live in a rural economically depressed section of Mexico who are discovered by a talent scout and promised their chance at stardom in the Mexican soccer league with two fictitious teams.

The thing this film does best is incorporate a storytelling voice-over which draws parallels between soccer and life and also gives a little insight into the character of Batuta, played by the scene-stealing Guillermo Francella. Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna work together as if Y Tu Mama Tambien was completed yesterday and not eight years ago. Each is a bona fide star in his own right.

Both cinematically and as a soccer enthusiast one might be slightly disappointed by the in-game action. Very few of the game scenes shoot on field action but rather a reaction in stadium or around a TV or just the ball entering the net and people on the sideline.

The trajectory that each character takes to fame is quite different both as players and people – and that’s great. While their declines are also different they are equally predictable, however well-executed. Cursi (Bernal) offers a tremendously funny Spanish rendition of “I Want You to Want Me,” the music video thereof is undoubtedly the best scene of the movie and one of the best of the year, as he desperately wants to be a singer and shouldn’t be. Luna (Rudo) is spotted at a track and taken deeper into the gambling world.

There’s nothing terribly wrong with Rudo y Cursi. It’s a fine watchable film and even incorporates a decent subplot with Rudo’s wife looking for money and falling into a pyramid scheme but with such talent assembled on camera you kind of want it to do more. Things which get glossed over you want examined in more depth.

The ending ultimately, while you like Rudo and Cursi, was a bit too facile and I think as good as the voice over was, telling the tale from Batuta’s point of view might have been a mistake because it ultimately creates a distance. In the beginning we as an audience are wondering “Who is this guy?” If it was either Rudo or Cursi we might’ve been even more invested in the brothers’s plight even if all events played out the same.