Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Rudo y Cursi (2008)

Toto (Gael García Bernal) and Beto (Diego Luna) are brothers working on a plantain farm. Beto is married with a baby, while Toto spends his nights hanging out with friends playing his guitar to requests. Beto is a gambler. He's no good at it and getting desperate, betting items like his wife's blender when he runs out of cash. (Now what will she use to make her smoothies?) Toto is simple. He just wants to make it as a singer--The End. Like the rest of the young men in their town between Colima and Jalisco, they play soccer whenever they can. When a soccer scout, Batuta (Guillermo Francella), discovers them, he tells them they are talented (albeit past their soccer prime age) and he'd like to represent...one of them--they must choose. Toto wins on a penalty kick and he's off to the big city to see if he has what it takes. Beto is left to stew with envy and anger. "But you have a family," Toto tells him. "Yes, even more reason why I should go."Brothers from the same mother

(Spoiler Alert: Read at Your Own Risk!)

Toto goes. Although usually able to score constantly and consistently, he is unable to prove himself at his try-out. When Batuta fears his 15 percent cut on Toto is diminishing, he dangles a recording contract and Toto starts performing. Initially, he's a miserable bench warmer, but then he hits his stride. Life changes immediately. Toto gets a house, a ride and a famous girlfriend. He even gets his brother a spot on a rival soccer team. And, he gets to record a song--the Spanish version of "I Want You to Want Me." (It's a treat.)

This is not a soccer movie. It's a movie about brothers, sibling rivalry and dreams. About wanting something so badly and getting it. Then what? Rudo y Cursi is an entertaining what if. Garcia and Luna were made for these roles opposite each other. The colors are vivid and bright. They parallel the passion the characters possess. The influence of women on these characters is explored. The brothers' mother has children from several different men. The brothers want to do right by their mother and get her the house she's dreamed of. With all their money, neither comes through. It isn't until their sister marries the town narco-trafficker that their mother gets her crib. Beto's wife is driven--she's sensible, besides staying with a gambler, and has lofty goals, especially when she starts making it as a Wonderlife rep. The long climactic scene near the end is a suspense builder as the brother face off. Don't miss Toto's chunky highlights, the annoying narration and the excellent humor of Rudo y Cursi.

Writer/Director: Carlos Cuarón

Country: Mexico

Genre: Drama

Run time: 103 minutes

Scale: 4.5

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