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Rudo y Cursi Not Exactly Compelling

Published May 7, 2009 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of respective holders
Rudo y CursiRudo y Cursi
Rudo y Cursi is an age old story. Two friends each get a big break, only one has what it takes and the other is kind of left behind and either brings the other down, or they bring themselves down. This version isn’t particularly compelling though.

Review: Rudo y Cursi


Rudo (Diego Luna) and Cursi (Gael Garcia Bernal) are local soccer players in rural Mexico. A scout discovers them and gives Cursi the shot, but Rudo follows shortly. With the natural talent, Cursi gets famous quick. With nothing but bravado, Rudo coasts along but digs himself deep with bad habits like gambling.

The point is well taken. Rudo has to learn the politics of the game. He needs to have some humility and just pay his dues. Being good isn’t enough. Respect your coaches. At least have diplomacy and just give up those irresponsible habits. Or just keep yelling to mask your insecurity. That’ll work.

Cursi does it right at first. He’s more relaxed, excited about all his opportunities, positive about the potential. You sympathize with his naïve kindness, until he becomes so self-entitled that he’s not even good anymore, throwing money around and slacking off.

The formula is obvious. Everything works out at first. That’s the fun part as the boys live their fantasies. You anticipate their downfall. Then there’s corruption in the sport too, so maybe that’s just too many clichés. Or maybe this is just the first time Hollywood’s formula reached Mexico. It shows how original Fighting actually was. I like the formula though, so this is just an example that can’t hold up to D2: The Mighty Ducks.



Or maybe a big problem is you hardly ever see the game. I know full stadiums are expensive, but if we just keep hearing about how they’re playing, there’s not much dramatic impact in taking their word for it.

The narrator’s analysis has some good philosophy. Each observation is profound, but if the movie needs that to explain what’s going on, the narration isn’t going to save it.

The style of the film is largely handheld. You know how I feel about that, but what’s really jarring here is that they try to do graceful dolly-esque moves, only with handheld cameras circling the actors, it keeps shaking unsteadily. So the spin invalidates the theory of handheld representing shaky reality, and the shaking just makes the fancy move look cheap. Oh, those crazy Cuarons and their style experiments.

There are a few funny parts, not as many sexy parts though Cursi’s girlfriend shows her boobies. For the effort it takes to relate to a foreign film through subtitles though, Rudo y Cursi isn’t enough reward.

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Fred Topel
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