This movie received a good amount of critical acclaim, and I procrastinated in seeing it, afraid that it would be too political or too heavy.
It is neither. It is a visually-attractive, atmospheric piece that flits from anecdote to anecdote and gradually runs out of gas. There are a number of enjoyable scenes — some humorous, others serious — that ultimately don’t lead to anything more specific than an overall tone of wistful compassion.
The guys (pictured above, left and right: Rodrigo de la Serna as biochemist Alberto Granado and Gael García Bernal as medical student Guevara) are good-looking and charming. Their best moments are the funny ones, and there are brief flashes of the subtly ironic sense of humor that tickles Spanish-inflected writing from Don Quijote to Carlos Castaneda to The Milagro Beanfield War. De la Serna’s lusty appetites serve as a nice foil for Bernal’s virtuous introspection, and it would be interesting to see these two in a movie that developed these characters. Here, the fun is tempered somewhat by oppressed people and a couple of weeks of volunteer work at a leper colony. Also, the asthmatic young Guevara is stricken several times by frightening attacks.
This is the second film by Walter Salles that I have seen, having previously enjoyed Central Station. Eric Gautier’s cinematography is very stylish, and the movie’s music is particularly intriguing (the song “Al otro lado del río” won an Oscar).
I seriously got a lot more out of Alton Brown’s motorcycle odyssey, Feasting on Asphalt.
I’m giving this one an ambivalent 3 out of 5 stars at Netflix.