I decided to watch this film with some fear of finding just one piece of socialist or communist propaganda. For my happiness, the register and the emphasis are much more intimate, biographical and human than, properly speaking, political. In fact, if we didn't know the figure of Ernesto "Che" Guevara so well, and what he will come to be and represent, the film would not help us much to understand or know much more.
The film is the result of the cinematographic adaptation of two books by Ernesto Guevara ("Notes from Travel") and by Alberto Granado ("With Che across South America"), who are the protagonists of the film. It's a film told in the first person, and it tells us about the great trip on a motorbike that the two friends and medical colleagues decided to make throughout the various countries of South America that speak the Spanish language, and in which Guevara will feel like increasingly interested in helping and defending the poorest and weakest in society.
The script is much better than I expected and focuses on the trip made and how the same trip affects and changes the personalities of the two companions, particularly Guevara's. The friendship between both protagonists is solid enough to never be compromised by any obstacles or setbacks, and the tribulations they both go through can be really comical and give the film a lighter tone than expected. The film is not politically charged, and the effort to depoliticize it may have gone beyond what is necessary: in fact, the contact Guevara has with the poor and weakest in society is reduced to a set of innocuous testimonies that, I confess, seem superficial to me.
Skillfully directed by the Brazilian Walter Salles, the film features excellent performances by Gael Bernal and Rodrigo de la Serna, two Hispanic actors whom I naturally didn't know, but who I enjoyed watching work. Both are excellent when acting together and collaborate very fruitfully, with the first one trying to avoid losing his character's joviality at the expense of a premature social and political conscience, and the latter refusing to be just the playful friend of a more important character.
Technically, it's exquisite and full of details, starting immediately with an attentive and careful cinematography that knows how to make each scene visually immersive and beautiful without taking the focus from the essentials. The careful choice of filming locations contributes with an additional beauty, in a true tour of the most scenic places in Latin America. The entire setting, costumes and props are good and fit the chronology in which all the events take place. I did not observe major problems of anachrony or lack of historical rigor. The music is quite good, but it doesn't stand out particularly. Finally, a brief note of praise for the use of Castilian as a language, to the detriment of the commercially better option for the English language, which would eventually sell the film more easily but bring with it a sense of unpleasant artificiality.
The film deals exactly with the point of departure of "Ernesto Che Guevara". This biography / road movie can be called a quasi-documentary. The journey of two friends and two lives with common dreams in Latin America and the film shows a real picture of these lands. The film becomes very deep and powerful in the second half and tends more towards the documentary structure. In one of the dialogues at the beginning of the movie, Ernesto's friend says that if there is no motorcycle, we should go on foot. Ernesto says better because then we see better and more people. Right from the middle of the movie, when the motorcycle is no longer useful due to its problems and being scrap, and they continue on foot, it becomes a journey to the depth of belief and changes both friends. The film follows life during the journey. And in the hands and curved lines of people's faces, there is a longing for life. The credits at the end of the movie are wonderful.
Seen simply as a film, The Motorcycle Diaries is attenuated and tedious. We understand that Ernesto and Alberto are friends, but that's about all we find out about them; they develop none of the complexities of other on-the-road couples, like Thelma and Louise, Bonnie and Clyde or Huck and Jim. There isn't much chemistry.
Si bien llega un momento en el que la película puede parecer bastante lenta, es muy interesante ver la historia atrás de un personaje tan controvertido e histórico por lo menos en la historia de Latinoamérica.
Well crafted and acted but it is not really special, the story is ambitious but the characters don't develop an interesting relationship and it just reach the point of showing an inspired young "Che". Gael García Bernal's work should be mentioned.
better late than never..
The Motorcycle Diaries
Salles's two wheeler ride may be uncomfortable but it is a success on reaching its destination, maybe not on time, but better late than never. Ticking for two hours, the journey does get hectic. But just as such long trip consists, it is brimmed with essential stops that juices up the track if it gets dry and weary. The concept calls for the storyline to be a series of different events and stops, but the performance holds you on your seat and gives you enough reason to stay till the last station arrives. As much as adaptive and layered the narration is, it isn't sharp, it doesn't speak to you a lot.
You have to search for it, nothing is served up front in here which is often good but only if it teases you to look for it and keep things intriguing. The rich cultures, beautiful live locations, real earthiness and a grounded dusty or cold roads does travel to you and on that tour-guide note it is a triumph. Aforementioned, the performance is what the feature thrives on. The passion wearing down and rebirthing itself from the ashes like a phoenix, Bernal is the apt companion to have for this trip. He is not confident, he is reserved, simple and more importantly makes mistake; a non provocative three dimensional character.
Serna as his supporting character holds onto his part convincingly. This over thought out philosophical medicine is admirable but certainly not cinematic enough to balance the husky and crispy bits alongside. The characteristics of the protagonist keeps surprising you throughout the course, his ideologies, his stubborn nature, everything opens big arms for the audience. The Motorcycle Diaries is like a ride and a diary-writing-habit, it can be sweat inducing but in the end it's worth every drop of it.