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Reckoning

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RUDO Y CURSI

SYNOPSIS:
Tato (Gael García Bernal) and Beto (Diego Luna), two brothers living a hard life of manual labour in rural Mexico, have a simple dream of saving enough money to build their mother her dream house. But a friendly game of soccer leads to first one, then the other being taken on by the nation's top talent scout, Batuta (Guillermo Francella), triggering the first of many emotional exchanges. They find themselves living the high life of star athletes-fame, riches, fast cars, and beautiful women. But when they are forced to compete, mutual trust gives way to resentment and betrayal, while the dangers of their wild new lifestyles threaten the safety of their entire family. Tato and Beto must face each other on the football pitch but also privately - or lose everything they had once dreamed of.

Review by Louise Keller:
In a sparkling re-pairing of Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna, this is a story about soccer-playing half brothers plucked from obscurity after being identified as 'diamonds in the rough'. Tato (Bernal) and Beto (Luna) both have dreams of greener pastures but each has a different response when opportunity comes knocking. Writer director Carlos Cuarón (brother of Alfonso) has created characters that are so real you can almost hear their thoughts. Tato and Beto are filled with contradictions, faults, quirks and foibles, yet we like them and want them to succeed. The humour bubbles over like a pot of well-loved stew as the men set out on an adventure fuelled by dreams, but there is plenty of mess to clean up, as they quickly find out.

We first meet the two brothers on the banana plantation on which they work. Their relationship is a comfortable one - they bicker nonstop but are inseparable. Soccer is how they spend their leisure time, although Tato fancies himself as a singer. Enter the talent scout. And the opportunities that come as a result. Rudo (rough) is the nickname given to Beto for his aggressive goalkeeping skills, while Cursi (sweet) becomes Tato's, when he endears himself to the spectators at large. Their nicknames do not necessarily describe the men's reactions and behaviour as success becomes like Pandora's box and all their demons escape. Tato becomes dazzled by a long-legged game-show beauty, while Beto is sucked into gambling and other temptations.

Everything begins with a kick - which is how it all ends. But what happens in between is magical cinema and a film to savour. Beautifully depicting the Mexican culture, Cuarón paints a rich and textured canvas which adds substance and context to the story. A real gem.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
There's surprisingly little football played on screen in this soccer-driven comedy, although we do see lots of crowd reactions and hear the screams of 'Goooooaaal!' But what there is a lot of is bright, fresh, well observed human drama dressed up as comedy as two brothers rise from rags to riches through their soccer talents. And how the change impacts on them. Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna are in top form as the brothers who love their mum and want to build her a dream house on the beach. This is a specially oversized fantasy, considering they live in the family's crumbling shacks, amidst the kind of poverty that grips you like a deadly disease. But then along comes a chance to be a soccer star and the fantasy seems within reach. At a price, of course .....

To his credit, filmmaker Carlos Cuarón manages to capture the poverty without making it squalid and depressing; it's real, but so are the people who are defined more by what they are (and do) as characters, rather than merely victims of poverty. This helps to underpin a sincere but playful mood, propelled by three terrific central performances, with Luna and Garcia Bernal joined by Guillermo Francella as the soccer talent scout who also narrates the story. Francella is a compelling mix of hustler and cunning fox, always a new babe on his arm, always a new way of surviving - and always ready to give advice from a store of street-wisdom collected in his haphazard life.

Entertaining and frequently funny, Rudo Y Crusi is also grounded and real, so we are not totally disconnected from reality; the obstacles of daily life are all real, whether it's the struggle to make money or the struggle to understand what you really want.



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

RUDO Y CURSI (M)
(US/Mexico, 2008)

CAST: Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna, Jessica Mas, Guillermo Francella, Dolores Heredia, Armando Hernandez, Malillany Marin, Felipe de Lara

PRODUCER: Carlos Cuarón, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Guillermo del Toro, Frida Torresblanco

DIRECTOR: Carlos Cuarón

SCRIPT: Carlos Cuarón

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Adam Kimmel

EDITOR: Alex Rodriguez

MUSIC: Leoncio Lara

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Eugenio Caballero

RUNNING TIME: 101 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 30, 2009







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