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Film Review: Rudo y Cursi

Benjamin Walker
Jason Kempin/Getty Images
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PARK CITY -- Boys will be boys, especially if they are brothers. Backdropped by a football (soccer) setting, "Rudo y Cursi" scores from every angle -- comic, personal and cross-cultural. Sony Pictures Classics will net a very high win with this spirited Carlos Cuaron film.

The story of two Mexican brothers who land their boyhood dreams of playing professional soccer, "Rudo y Cursi" delighted even those Sundancers of us who are bored by the sport. In short, it's a film with a soccer setting but is not particularly about soccer.

In this rambunctious scenario, the two young men have the same mother but different fathers; as such, they are not surprisingly personality opposites: Beto (nicknamed Rudo for his aggression) is hot-tempered and physical, while Tato (nicknamed Cursi for his curly-cued hair ) is introspective and artistic.

They are plucked from a life of banana-picking by a wily and devious football scout who lands them positions on professional teams. They leave their rural family life -- Rudo actually runs out on his wife in the middle of the night -- to take up big-time pro sports in the big city, namely Mexico City.

Cuaron's rich narrative courses through an array of personal obstacles, all of them universal and readily identifiable. In addition to their long-standing sibling rivalry, each brother is cursed with an addiction: Rudo is a self-destructive gambler, while Cursi is susceptible to trophy women. Cuaron embroils them in both high-stakes personal quests but also enlivens the story with a pulsating life-and-death undercurrent.

What is best about this savvy amusement is that we care about the two lead characters: Each is heavily flawed, but each is winning. Audiences will be rooting for them until the very last shot is taken, and we're not necessarily talking about only shots on the field.

With its refined focus on the particular and its eye to common human foibles, "Rudo y Cursi" is a universal entertainment buoyed by Cuaron's gifted storytelling and realized by the charismatic lead performances of Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal. High praise also to Guillermo Francella for his oily turn.

Technical contributions are championship level, highlighted by cinematographer Adam Kimmel's skewered and warm compositions.

Jason Kempin/Getty Images
Jason Kempin/Getty Images
Jason Kempin/Getty Images
Jason Kempin/Getty Images
Jason Kempin/Getty Images

Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Production company: Cha Cha Cha
Cast: Diego Luna, Gael Garcia Bernal, Guillermo Francella
Director-screenwriter: Carlos Cuaron
Producers: Alfonso Cuaron, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Tita Lombardo, Guillermo del Toro, Frida Torresblanco
Director of photography: Adam Kimmel
Production designer: Eugenio Caballero
Music: Leoncio Lara
Costume designers: Annai Ramos, Ana Terrazas
Editor: Alex Rodriguez
No rating, 104 minutes