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Rudo y Cursi
Directed by Carlos Cuarón
Don't let Rudo y Cursi
's vérité aesthetic fool you: despite the shaky, prowling camera capturing glimpses of Latin American poverty, this is, at heart, a glossy party film. Screenwriter Carlos Cuarón's feature-length directorial debut, it was produced by his older brother Alfonso (Y tu mama tambien
, Children of Men
) and director pals Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth
) and Alejandro González Iñárritu (Amores Perros
). His buddies Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal (Y tu mama tambien
's leads, together again) star, respectively, as the titular brothers.
Thus, it feels very much like a makeshift-family affair, the Spanish-language version of the Apatow Dumpling Gang's excuse-for-a-vacation Forgetting Sarah Marshall
or the Soderberghers' excuse-to-hang-out Ocean's
series. Rudo y Cursi
's ensuing dramas — the rivalries, the falls from grace, the hot-headed hotel room trashings — feel emotionally disingenuous, like mere excuses to move the story along to another congenial bull session, another party, another sunny locale, another upscale hotel, another soccer game.
Rudo and Cursi, nicknames that roughly translate as Tough and Corny, work as banana harvesters and live with their families in rural-village poverty; they can't even play the lottery because they don't have a phone. Serendipitously, a talent scout discovers both, giving them the chance to play professional fútbol (for opposing teams); they leave family and fields for urban squalor and, eventually, stardom and its accoutrements: fancy houses, high class girls, haute-omobiles, hard drugs and high-stakes gambling.
And then, no spoiler alert necessary, It All Comes Crashing Down. The serious cultural-political undertones that pervaded Sugar, another recent film about Latinos making it in sports, are absent here; Cuaron relegates any gravities — like, back home a drug lord is buying up all the land — to the rearground, where they are brushed over. Rudo y Cursi
is essentially a celebration of soccer, framed within a classic sibling rivalry. (It culminates in a dopey finale, brother against brother in the Big Game, sort of like that time Bart and Lisa played hockey.) Superficially, it's a charming and breezy film, summed up by its last line: "todos por el amor del fútbol." Well, and for the love of making movies with friends.
Opens May 8