Half-brotherly love

Posted on 13 May 2009 at 6:09pm
By Steve Warren Contributing Film Critic


Y tu hermano tambien: Bernal, left, and Luna.

B
RUDO Y CURSI
Director: Carlos Cuarón
Cast: Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna and Guillermo Fracella
Opens: Friday, May 15 at the Angelika Dallas.
1 hr. 43 min. R.

Luna, Bernal rekindle infamous chemistry in sporty cautionary tale
The stars of "Y tu mamá también" have the same mama but different papas in "Rudo y Cursi," a dramedy that’s a sweet exploration of the vagaries of fame, the depth of half-brotherly love, the extent of corruption in Mexico, and, of course, soccer — er, futbol.

Beto (Diego Luna) and Tato (Gael García Bernal) are small town guys who pick bananas for a living and play soccer for fun. Their story is told by "Batuta" ("Baton") (Guillermo Francella), a bottom-feeding agent who buys their way onto pro teams in Mexico City.

The scale of his operation is such that he can only discover one player at a time. Tato goes first, even though he really wants to be a singer. Soccer success gives him the opportunity, and keeps him from realizing how bad he is. It also gives him a chance with beautiful TV personality Maya Vega (Jessica Mas).

When Beto is called up, he has to leave his wife Toña (Adriana Paz) and their son behind at first, but his family values are never in question, just jeopardized by his gambling problem. The ultimate goal of both brothers is to buy a nice house for their mother, Elvira (Dolores Heredia).

The title is composed of the nicknames the guys’ soccer styles earn them. Not translated in the subtitles, they’re given as "Tough" and "Corny" in publicity material. Beto is a goalie who plays to win, while Tato is a showoff. Cursi can also mean "flamboyant," because when he’s given the nickname Tato protests, "I’m no pansy." (There’s a lot of homophobic talk in futbol.)

It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to translate the title as "Butch and Femme," but Tato does like the ladies. He spends money on them the way Beto does on gambling, making their dream of a house for Mama all the more unlikely.

Meanwhile back home, the brothers’ sister Nadia (Tania Esmeralda Aguilar) is preparing to marry an alleged druglord.

The siblings alternate between rivalry and revelry as their individual fortunes wax and wane. Of course, it comes down to the Big Game, with the brothers on opposing teams and a shutout record, a fortune and a life hanging in the balance.

Bernal and Luna have come a long way in this decade, without losing their innocent charm. There’s no chance of incest between the brothers but gay viewers will be sated when each is welcomed to his team with a memorable hazing scene in the shower.

As the actors has advanced on the international film scene, so has the Mexican film industry in general, and "Rudo y Cursi" is a deceptively simple winner that’s greater than the sum of its parts.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 15, 2009.

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