Thursday, 16 July 2009

rudo y cursi (w&d carlos cuarón)

As it happens, last week over lunch in Almagro, one of those Spanish lunches that last forever, Fernando, one of the actors from Gatomaquica, was saying that it was incredible given the size of the country that Mexico had produced so few good films over recent years. He'd lived there for a while and been disillusioned by their film/ theatre worlds. The usual suspects were rolled out: Peros, Y Tu, and thereafter it all got a bit harder, although let Reygadas not be lost in the mix. It's probably not a question of a lack of talent, but undoubtedly most intriguing Mexican directors seem to head across the border. The Mexican relationship with Hollywood not so very different from the British.

Sad to say, Rudo Y Cursi, in spite of its superstar billing, doesn't do much to mitigate against Fernando's point of view. It seems to have all the right ingredients, but never comes close to convincing. Perhaps it's football. How many successful football movies have been made? Not many. Salles also used football, with rather more subtlety, in his latest film Linha De Passe. There are obvious reasons why Latin American cinema should turn to football for subject matter, with this being one field where innate talent can permit someone from a poor background to rise up through society. However, Rudo Y Cursi, unlike Salles' film, wants to have it both ways: a bit of social commentary with lots of humour thrown in. The actors never seem quite sure whether the film should be played exclusively for laughs or whether there's actually something else going on, ending up resorting to a mannered high comedy style which does neither justice, and suggests they're enjoying themselves rather more than the audience. Cuaron's screenplay feels underdeveloped, and the whole thing has the feel of a film that has been dashed off rather than tended. Like one of those superstar football teams (Real Madrid since they decided to acquire Beckham) which assumes that as a result of the sheer weight of famous names on the pitch cannot help but succeed, but in practice never really has much of an identity, and never wins anything.

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