Sunday, August 23, 2009

Rudo y Cursi

After seeing Carlos Cuaron's directorial debut "Rudo y Cursi," about rivalry between brothers, I can now say that I believe Alfonso, his brother and the director of the amazing "Children of Men," is the better filmmaker. Carlos' film is a profane, somewhat sickening take on soccer and its deep effect upon people. Tato (Gael Garcia Bernal) and Beto (Diego Luna) are two brothers working on a banana plantation in rural Mexico. In their spare times, Beto and Tato play soccer, and Tato sings (not exactly well, but I don't think the film makes a big deal of that). Suddenly, a greedy-looking fellow by the nickname of "Baton" (Guillermo Francella) comes to town and wants to turn the two brothers into superstars.

"Baton" accommodates both brothers eventually, but he's difficult. He first only takes Tato on the basis of a penalty shot which the two coordinated to go one way (for Beto's sake), and well, Tato aimed otherwise. Moving on, when they're on their teams, both brothers take in large paychecks and live in the house Tato (now known as "Cursi" since he does a lot of theatrics after he scores) has gotten a hold of as a gift from the team. Cursi is dating a TV celebrity named Maya (Jessica Mas), a woman who we realize (but not Cursi) just loves the player who's hot at the moment. Cursi is also trying to launch his career as a singer (his signature song is "I Want You to Want Me"). Beto (or "Rudo"), the more successful soccer player of the two (probably since he's more devoted), is investing with his wife Tona (Adriana Paz) in a vitamin company. He's also gambling a lot, using a "system," which you know is not good news.

As noted in Ebert's and the Playlist's reviews, the film is more about the energy surrounding soccer than than the sport itself. This is necessary in the situation presented, since it helps to understand the emotions of the two brothers, who are the real main focuses on the field. What the film comes down to in the end seems like a melodramatic sports cliche, and it sort of is. But the intention I think of Cuaron is to show a dream that turns sour due to the fact that there is so much on the line (one reason why neighborhood soccer is somewhat better). If you think you know what will happen in the film's conclusion, you probably are slightly off. This whole scene is supposed to be dreamy and weirdly downscaled, but if you're looking for an ending you can't quite find, there is one. All-in-all, "Rudo y Cursi" isn't very solid (although Bernal and Luna are decent and Adam Kimmel is a great cinematographer), but it provides an interesting, realistic, and darkly funny look into superstardom and how two man-children having it brought upon them are too naive to see that they are being played. C+

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