THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES

"Weak"

THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES Review


The Argentina born Ernesto 'Che' Guevara (1928-67) was a revolutionary and a guerilla warrior for Castro, helping to sever Cuba's economic ties with the U.S. and to direct trade to the Communist bloc. In recent years, he has become a symbol for rebellion and an icon decorating numerous T-shirts, stickers and posters.

While in his 20s, Guevara, then known as Ernesto Guevara de la Serna, linked up with a pal, Alberto Granado, and embarked on an 8000-km trip across South America.

"The Motorcycle Diaries" visits this early part of Guevara's life. It could have been a brutal, intense, probing story of a fascinating personality, but unfortunately the film was directed by Oscar-winning soft-pedal Brazilian filmmaker Walter Salles. This is the equivalent of getting Mike Nichols or Ron Howard to direct a biopic of Sid Vicious.

Watered down and concentrating mostly on pretty pictures, Salles guts Guevara's story, turning it into a Hallmark card.

For the film's first half, med student Guevara (Gael Garcia Bernal) joins the slightly older doctor Alberto (Rodrigo de la Serna) on a beat-up, run-down motorcycle dubbed The Mighty One. Salles photographs The Mighty One scooting across picturesque frames, alternating with scenes of spectacular wipeouts. The friends meet beautiful girls, dance, smile and generally have a good time. The Motorcycle Diaries could be a road/buddy comedy.

In the second half, Guevara suddenly finds himself in a strange new world filled with injustice, and his fun-loving personality turns on a dime. The friends meet a traveling couple who were kicked out of their home and now hope to find work in a dangerous mine. Guevara listens intently and soberly to their problems, as he does with many other unfortunate people along the road.

When Guevara and Alberto reach their destination, a leper colony in Peru, Guevara makes his boldest move yet: he decides not to wear protective gloves while meeting the patients.

For good measure, Salles throws in a couple of Oscar-clip scenes, involving Guevara suffering a serious asthma attack, or Guevara swimming the width of the Amazon to spend his birthday with the leprosy patients, or a shot of the real-life Granado as seen today, gazing at something distant on the horizon.

I haven't seen Salles' 1998 Oscar-winner "Central Station," but I did suffer through the wretched 2001 film "Behind the Sun," complete with its airy, pretentious title. His modus operandi seems to be making pretty pictures while appearing to be serious and dedicated, but never truly exploring anything of substance.

The Che Guevara story desperately needed someone like the late Nicholas Ray, who could have delved into the man's psyche, or Gus Van Sant, who would at least have given us a more potent portrait of two beautiful young men on the road. Alfonso Cuaron's "Y tu mamá también" -- which also starred Garcia -- certainly managed a more thorough exploration of time and place during a similar journey.

Fortunately, "The Motorcycle Diaries" does have an ace up its sleeve with Garcia, a strikingly handsome young man with a jagged, winning smile and intense eyes. Garcia appears to be prepared to go all the way with his performance, bringing an intensity and magnetism to the screen, but Salles fights him on it and mostly wins.

One final complaint: The Mighty One gives up the ghost about halfway through the film, so the title The Motorcycle Diaries proves to be fairly inaccurate. Just one more detail overlooked by a director with Oscars in his eyes.



THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES

Facts and Figures

In Theaters: Friday 24th September 2004

Box Office USA: $16.7M

Box Office Worldwide: $16.8M

Distributed by: Focus Features

Production compaines: Film4, Filmfour, Wildwood Enterprises, Tu Vas Voir Productions, BD Cine, Inca Films S.A., Sahara Films, Senator Film Produktion, Sound for Film

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 84%
Fresh: 129 Rotten: 25

IMDB: 7.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Ernesto Guevara de la Serna, as Alberto Granado, as Celia de la Serna, as Chichina Ferreyra, Antonella Costa as Silvia, as Ernesto Guevara Lynch, Lucas Oro as Roberto Guevara, Marina Glezer as Celita Guevara, as Ana María Guevara, Franco Solazzi as Juan Martín Guevara, Ricardo Díaz Mourelle as Uncle Jorge

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

After a number of films, TV series and stage adaptations, Arthur Ransome's beloved 1930 novel...

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

The original BBC sitcom The Office ran for 14 episodes from 2001 to 2003, and...

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

Bold and intelligent, this dark drama is a challenging portrait of the making of an...

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

This hugely enjoyable adventure is a loose remake of the 1977 Disney hit that blended...

The Shallows Movie Review

The Shallows Movie Review

With a simple premise and plenty of visual style, Spanish filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown) takes...

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Watching this gross-out comedy, it's clear that the gifted cast and crew had a great...

Nerve Movie Review

Nerve Movie Review

With a premise that feels almost eerily current, this stylish thriller revolves around a phone...

Advertisement
The Carer Movie Review

The Carer Movie Review

Brian Cox gets the role of a lifetime in this warm comedy about living life...

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Writer-director Robert Budreau takes a stylised approach to this biopic of the legendary jazz artist...

Jason Bourne Movie Review

Jason Bourne Movie Review

It's been nine years since Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass collaborated on The Bourne Ultimatum,...

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

Veteran Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg (Festen, The Hunt) returns to a smaller homegrown story after...

The BFG Movie Review

The BFG Movie Review

For his adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic, Steven Spielberg reunited with screenwriter Melissa Mathison,...

Finding Dory Movie Review

Finding Dory Movie Review

It's been 13 years since the release of the Disney/Pixar hit Finding Nemo, and filmmaker...

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

This is where the Star Trek franchise officially shifts from thoughtful drama into thunderous action....

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.