Monday, October 24, 2005

Ma Che sucede?

Occasionally one does surface from a steady diet of Hindi movies.

In this case, to watch Motorcycle Diaries, starring the Mexican actor Gael García Bernal.

While he has been great so far in his young life and career in Y Tu Mamá También and Mala Educación, this movie was a letdown after all the hype it received.

In it, Gael plays the young Ernesto Guevara, before he became the Che that has graced so many dorm room walls and t-shirts, oh yeah, and the dark, brooding revolutionary compañero of Fidel.

Nota bene: ‘che’ is a word Argentines use when addressing a friend, not unlike the way Tams will call a buddy ‘maplai’;for example “Che, vos querés ir al cine esta noche?”, but it’s funny to see how it’s treated in English-language media, often with “el” before it, as if he were The Che. But I digress.

For a road movie, the pace of this flic was that of a slowly deflating tire.

The scenery is gorgeous, especially in Peru. And the landscape isn’t bad, either. Ah the beauty of Gael García Bernal, those green cat eyes and long nose that he inherited from his mother, the actress Patricia Bernal. He could be Saif Ali Khan's Guadalajaran doppelgänger, cursed with an almost too feminine beauty. He is a joy to behold, and he was able to camouflage his Mexican accent with an Argentine one, but I never saw the change that Che supposedly underwent on this trip, where his eyes – those of a comfortable, middle class porteño - were opened to the injustices across the length of South America and he felt a call to action.

All the vim and brio in Motorcycle Diaries was expressed by the actor Rodrigo de la Serna, Che’s companion on the journey, fellow Argentine Alberto Granado. While the less prettier of the two boys, it is Rodrigo who appears to actually live before our eyes on celluloid, while Gael sleepwalks.

Maybe it’s because I had read a lot about Che Guevara and the Cuban revolution already and knew the back story. Perhaps if I had seen the movie with fresh eyes.


Blogger Ananthan said...

Part of it is probably related to the subject matter itself. The book that the movie is based on isn't really all that riveting. I read it a few years ago and it was incredibly slow-paced and dry, the movie stayed pretty true to that.

I wonder why they chose to adapt it, like you said he did a lot of other things that are far more interesting/worthy of a movie.

3:40 PM  
Blogger Olinda said...

Funny enough, I read recently that GGB played Che in another movie.

When he gets about 5 or 10 years older, I'd be interested to see him in a role as a romantic leading man.

On the subject of movies about Cuban, Alfredo Molina had a lot of heft in "The Perez Family" where he played a Marielito, though I'm sure anyone Cuban would roll their eyes at the movie ingeneral.

7:49 PM  
Blogger arzan said...


I saw that movie last november, when it came out and I loved it.

Of course i am also a fellow motorcyclist and mcycle junkie !!

11:49 AM  
Blogger Olinda said...

So what exactly did you love about it, Arzan? Tell me, tell me.

There was a degree of poetry in the imagery of them trying to ride down a snowy road, for example, and even the hair-raising start in Bs. As. where they almost plow headlong into a bus, but I don't know, not enough for me to rave about the movie.

I didn't time it, but also, it seemed that La Poderosa died on them halfway through the movie, didn't she?

3:20 PM  

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