Directed by: WALTER SALLES
Written by: JOSE RIVERA, based
on books by ERNESTO "CHE" GUEVARA
and ALBERTO GRANADO
Starring: GAEL GARCIA BERNAL,
RODRIGO DE LA SERNA
Released by: Focus
Motorcycle Diaries could have been a joy-ride
but instead it shows the transformative
power of travel.
The Evolution of a Revolutionary
1952 and two twenty-something medical students set
off from Buenos Aires on what’s to be a carefree
trip around South America. The trip will prepare one
of the students to become a doctor. It will prepare
the other to become Che Guevara.
Che (Gael García Bernal) begins
this film as Ernesto, 23 years old and none too remarkable.
He’s quiet, loving, smart, empathetic, honest
to a fault, prone to debilitating asthma attacks and
hopelessly romantic. His traveling companion Alberto
(Rodrigo de la Serna) is a fast-talking, wheeler-dealer
ladies’ man, and the witty chemistry between
them provides a smart backdrop as they encounter the
rich weave of a continent.
The Motorcycle Diaries could have
been a joy-ride buddy pic – many road movies
have gotten by on far less. But it shows, with great
subtlety, the many South Americas of that day: rich
and poor, sick and well, clothed and ragged, those
who live for pleasure and those for whom pleasure
is a dream. Through the sweeping Argentine pampas,
the Andes grey and cold, magnificent Machu Picchu,
grand, noisy cities and the squalor of a leper colony,
it’s hard to remember a film so diversely, and
beautifully, shot. If the Motorcycle Diaries doesn’t
make you want to head south of the Equator, you’re
really not a traveler.
But what’s most special are the faces, faces
like those in photographs by Dorothea Lange: unwashed,
ruddy, furrowed faces with the nobility of the hard-working
underdog, wracked by disease, poverty or the corporate
mill. The faces in this picture moved us, and it’s
easy to imagine how they could have inspired the young
Ernesto on his journey.
And that, ultimately, is what the Motorcycle Diaries
is all about: the transformative power of travel.
But if you’re a regular visitor to Gayot.com,
you already know about that.