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THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES

Long before becoming a symbol of revolutionary zeal, the dreamy, idealistic Che Guevara went on an 8-month trip with a good buddy to see what he had not yet seen of South America. This is a rendering of that journey.

CAST: Gael Garcia Bernal, Rodrigo de la Serna, Mia Maestro, Mercedes Moran, Susana Lanteri, Ulises Dumont

DIRECTOR: Walter Salles

SCREENWRITER: Jose Rivero

 

“The movie's feeling of freshness and possibility comes from the wide-eyed intelligence of its heroes...What ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’ captures, with startling clarity and delicacy, is the quickening of Ernesto's youthful idealism, and the gradual turning of his passionate, literary nature toward an as yet unspecified form of radical commitment...Bernal, with his smoldering eyes and equine features, is the movie's heartthrob. Though the film does, by the end, view Ernesto as a quasi-holy figure, turning away from the corruptions of the world toward a higher purpose, he is also portrayed as a mischievous, eager boy...Bernal's soulful, magnetic performance notwithstanding, the real star of the film is South America itself, revealed in the cinematographer Eric Gautier's misty green images as a land of jarring and enigmatic beauty.” --A. O. Scott, The New York Times

“A voice-over at the beginning tells us that this is ‘not a tale of heroic feats,’ but that’s just what it is...the film is a deeply felt and beautifully acted hagiography—a portrait of a citizen of the world as a young man...‘The Motorcycle Diaries’ may be a sophisticated snow job, but it’s also true that the brutalities it serves up are not fictions and, in many ways, still exist in Latin America...The young man of this movie transcends politics—which, of course, is the way to make his sainthood less controversial.” --Peter Rainer, New York Magazine

“Bernal is so preposterously beautiful that all his movies tend, at a certain point, to stop whatever they’re supposed to be doing and gawk...In ‘The Motorcycle Diaries,’ he passes half the time on the sidelines, drinking in the flow of different cultures with his liquid gaze...Bernal may give no hint of the harshness to come, the tough guerrilla’s heart that would sacrifice any number of lives for a cause, but that is hardly in the actor’s brief. He belongs here because only a film star, and a hot one at that, can hope to remind us of what it was like to slip, willingly or not, under the spell of Che Guevara.” --Anthony Lane, The New Yorker

“Che Guevara, the long-dead Marxist guerrilla who has graced dorm-room walls for decades, springs to glorious life in ‘The Motorcycle Diaries,’ a gorgeous, poetic and stirring epic depicting a defining experience in his early adulthood...Walter Salles, the gifted Brazilian director of ‘Central Station,’ and his screenwriter, Nuyorican playwright Jose Rivera, have lovingly crafted this material into not only the definitive road movie -- but what may be the first great South American epic...this inspiring film offers impeccable performances, particularly by Bernal, a very serious candidate for a Best Actor Oscar.” --Lou Lumenick, The New York Post

“There is no great story being told here. Mostly, it is a conventional road movie -- a buddy comedy even -- about the quests of two likable guys...Salles comes awfully close at times to posing Guevara as a Christ figure. And the parting speech Che gives to administrators of the leper colony, in which he casually defines his desire for a united, socialist Latin America, seems to be snatched from a speech given later in his life...Bernal lacks the physical charisma that has made Che a heartthrob even to people who don't know who he was. But he has a natural warmth and vulnerability that work well in the role.” --Jack Mathews, The New York Daily News

“...a mesmerizing look at an asthmatic, rich-boy medical student in the act of discovering his insurgent spirit...Cheers to Walter Salles for keeping the focus intimate and thrillingly immediate. A good part of the film's power is the way it sneaks up on you...The Mexican Bernal, far from the erotic romp of ‘Y Tu Mama Tambien,’ gives a breakthrough performance, playing Ernesto like a gathering storm.” --Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

“The charm of this film lies in the fact that though it’s about political awareness, it’s nonpolitical in essence. Viewers need not be immersed in Latin American politics to comprehend the saga, which opts for a mode that could be described as realistic humanism...missing from the film are scenes (reportedly shot but excised) that illuminate Che’s sexual politics. Hence, on a boat, both Ernesto and Alberto sleep with the same prostitute, but the film shows only the latter, and a scene in which Ernesto beds one of his leper patients, was also filmed and deleted...Yet for Salles the director, it’s a major achievement—and his best film.” --Emanuel Levy (emanuellevy.com)

“Some viewers may consider ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’ a whitewash, portraying a virtual terrorist as a harmless, even likable man. One thing few will disagree on is the quality of the film's acting, especially by Gael García Bernal as Guevara and Rodrigo de la Serna as his friend. Both effortlessly embody the footloose, sometimes feckless quality of this ‘On the Road’-style adventure.” --David Sterritt, The Christian Science Monitor

“As fleshed out by Gael Garcia Bernal, Guevara is an astonishing blend of stumbler and saint...And Rodrigo de la Serna, as the buffoonish but stalwart Alberto Granado, makes a splendid soulmate. The ripening of their remarkable friendship and their joyful reverence for their native land are what gives ‘Motorcycle’ its emotional thrust. In a time of intensified gimmickry and hardsell, director Walter Salles has made a movie so subtle yet straightforward, so modest yet overpowering, that it seems truly revolutionary.” --Guy Flatley, Moviecrazed

“The film's ultimate power lies in the gentle poignancy of Guevara's gradual awareness of his fellow man's sorrows and the multiplicity of injustices visited upon his countrymen...the movie achieves an impressive blend of emotional resonance and light entertainment...the two key performances are winning, the dialogue (subtitled) is believable and often quite funny, and the documentary-style cinematography is stunning...More coming-of-age story than biopic, this Guevara odyssey is a transformative adventure well worth watching.” --Claudia Puig, USA Today

“Walter Salles shows with ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’ what he might teach U.S. political operatives, filmmakers and radio hosts -- that you can tell a political story without alienating half your audience...‘Motorcycle Diaries’ is not just a story about an awakening or the unity of a people, but of the beauty of a land whose people are too busy surviving to notice: A shot of a funeral procession moving along an Andean ridge is a representative moment in the travelogue of Che and Alberto; humans often are shot with handheld cameras, but the land is captured stock still, and haunted.” --John Anderson, Newsday