THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES
Dir: Walter Salles
Cast: Gael Garcia Bernal, Rodrigo de la Serna, Mia Maestro
Release Date: August 27th 2004
Good as it is to reclaim Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, the symbol of romanticized revolution, from thousands of T-shirts and student union posters, dramatizing his journey of political and spiritual awakening across South America is a potential minefield. Guevara was a 23-year old wide-eyed med student at the time; the danger of turning out a worthy, sterile travelogue, ideally suited for Home Counties parents to recommend to their backpacking GAP year teens, was high. Happily what we’ve got is On the Road with fewer drugs and more lepers.
Guevara and fellow traveler Alberto Granado’s voyage is a real epic, from middle-class Buenos Aires, through the Andes, along the Inca trail and deep into the poorest parts of the Amazon. Compiled from various accounts including Guevara’s own eponymous journals, the film carefully sifts them all into a painfully honest, rough and ready road trip: pretty but always gritty and often raucously funny.
Seemingly improvised and shot on the run, the focus on fallible young men allows us closer to ‘Che’, and Bernal (unrecognizable from his recent Bad Education femme fatale) and the engaging de la Serna are truly excellent. Socially conscious and quietly impassioned it’s a proud addition to an increasingly important legacy.
* * * * (four stars)
*'© Highbury Entertainment 2004. No material may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.'
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