Rudo & Cursi (15)

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The Independent Culture

This tale of two brothers seems to be a comic satire on ambition, but the laughs are desperately hard to come by.

Rudo (Diego Luna) and Cursi (Gael García Bernal) work on a banana plantation and play for a football team in their Mexican village. Their rags-to-riches story begins when a talent scout (Guillermo Francella) spots their potential and recruits them to professional outfits, despite the camera's refusal to show more than a few seconds of their footballing prowess. A failure of nerve by the director, Carlos Cuaron, or an admission of the actors' inability to fake it? The air of unreality becomes irksome, as do the leads, both too old for "boy wonders" and both mislaying the charm of their last collaboration, Y Tu Mamá También. The arc of the story is too steep to be credible: one minute success, the next gambling debts, tabloid infamy and a seedy match-fixing scandal. The snippets of football philosophy are about as deep as an afternoon with Garth Crooks.