Rudo y Cursi

Rudo y Cursi

2008, R, 103 min. Directed by Carlos Cuarón. Starring Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna, Guillermo Francella, Dolores Heredia, Adriana Paz, Jessica Mas.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., May 15, 2009

Anyone noticing the reteaming of Mexican actors Bernal and Luna who comes expecting this film to have the sexy vibe of their famous pairing in Y Tu Mamá También will be sadly disappointed (although rewarded with excellent if different performances). Furthermore, anyone who notices the Rudo y Cursi storyline about two brothers who play for opposing soccer teams and arrives expecting rousing scenes of athletic prowess will also find expectations quashed, because this film contains hardly any action footage whatsoever. Should you also notice that Rudo y Cursi is directed by the brother of Alfonso Cuarón (whose films run the stylistic gamut from Y Tu Mamá También and Great Expectations to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Children of Men), it’s likely you will be less than captivated by writer/director Carlos Cuarón’s utilitarian visual style and thin narrative mechanics. However, if you come to Rudo y Cursi minus all this baggage, you might find a small charmer, a slender tale of sibling affection and antagonism, a morality tale about country bumpkins and city slickers. Beto (Luna) and Tato (Bernal) Verdusco are banana-plantation workers in Southern Mexico who are passionate about playing soccer and the dream of eventually building their mother a new home. Tato also harbors an ambition to become a singing star, while Beto feeds a troublesome gambling addiction with the funds intended for his wife and children. Into their rural lives comes Batuta (Francella), a scout and wheeler-dealer whom we are to believe travels the countryside looking for soccer talent (even if they are as overaged as the Verdusco brothers). First he brings one brother, Tato, to Mexico City, who becomes an instant star who’s nicknamed Cursi (“corny”) for his onfield shenanigans and the goofy music video he records. Soon Batuta recruits Beto (dubbed Rudo or “tough”) as a goalie for a competing team, and the brothers live in the carefree lap of luxury until they are eventually undone by self-delusion (Cursi) and a fierce gambling habit (Rudo). All the while, the story is narrated in a voiceover by Batuta, whose observations are more trite than wise. Living up to its title, Rudo y Cursi is appealingly tough and corny but contains little that causes these elements to congeal into anything greater.

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Rudo y Cursi, Carlos Cuarón, Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna, Guillermo Francella, Dolores Heredia, Adriana Paz, Jessica Mas

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