Movie Reviews

Film Review: “Rudo y Cursi”

(Sony Pictures Classics. In Spanish with English subtitles. 1 hour, 43 minutes. Rated R for pervasive language, sexual content and brief drug use. Directed by Carlos Cuarón.) Gael García Bernal (Tato), Diego Luna (Beto), Guillermo Francella (Batuta), Dolores Heredia (Elvira), Adriana Paz (Toña), Jessica Mas (Maya). Music by Felipe Pérez Santiago.

Bernal and Luna are childhood friends who are big stars in their native Mexico. Though both have had successes in solo projects, particularly Bernal, they are best known internationally for their joint project Y Tu Mamá También from seven years ago. That was written by Carlos Cuarón and his brother Alfonso, who also directed it. Now Carlos has written and directed this lively, genial look at two poor Mexican brothers who work at a banana plantation and play street futból (soccer) for fun.

It turns out they’re talented players, and they end up being recruited by Batuta (“the Baton”) who gets them into the Mexico City soccer league. Soon they’re stars, and struggle with the temptations of the big city. The married Beto (nicknamed Rudo or “rough”) deals with gambling, drugs, and his headstrong wife Toña, who doesn’t want to leave their little home town; meanwhile Tato (Cursi or “corny”), who really wants to be a singer and really isn’t, falls for gorgeous TV star Maya. As you can probably guess, what goes up must eventually come down. Cuarón’s tone here is wobbly as the movie veers uneasily between light and dark; plus Batuta’s metaphor-filled narration gets a bit tiresome after a while. Fortunately (for most) this is a soccer movie that’s not really about soccer (there’s only a couple of scenes of actual play), so you don’t have to be into the sport to enjoy the obvious warmth between the two leads. Es bueno, amigos.