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

The Party Movie Review

The Party Movie Review

Comedies don't get much darker than this pitch-black British movie, written and directed by Sally...

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) is on his way to becoming the new Woody Allen, which...

6 Below Movie Review

6 Below Movie Review

Based on an astonishing true survival story, this film is subtitled "Miracle on the Mountain",...

Mother Movie Review

Mother Movie Review

Darren Aronofsky doesn't make fluffy movies, and has only had one genuine misfire (2014's Noah)....

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

It's been 35 years since Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, which was set in 2019....

On the Road Movie Review

On the Road Movie Review

Wolf Alice fans are likely to be rather disappointed by this hybrid documentary-drama about the...

Borg/McEnroe Movie Review

Borg/McEnroe Movie Review

Skilfully made by Swedish filmmaker Janus Metz (the award-winning Armadillo), this film is essentially a...

Advertisement
The Glass Castle Movie Review

The Glass Castle Movie Review

There are quite a few terrific moments in this true story, based on the memoir...

Home Again Movie Review

Home Again Movie Review

Reese Witherspoon is so likeable that she can carry even the most hackneyed of romantic...

Brimstone Movie Review

Brimstone Movie Review

An unnerving Western with a sharp female perspective, this film is a series of gruesome...

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

Two years ago, Kingsman: The Secret Service seemed to come out of nowhere, ruffling feathers...

Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

This biopic about Winnie the Pooh author A.A. Milne may look like the usual lushly...

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

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.