Starring: Gael Garcia Bernal, Rodrigo De la Serna, Mercedes Moran, Jean Pierre Noher
Running time: 126 minutes
Directed By: Walter Salles
Written By: Jose Rivera
The Motorcycle Diaries is a road movie, a road movie based on the life of a man who managed to change a large proportion of political discrepancies in South America. This man was Che Guevara, the leader of a revolution in Cuba in order to make all people equal. This decision of his came after this road trip which is the story of The Motorcycle Diaries.
The film starts with Ernesto (later Che) and Alberto heading on a road trip across South America to explore countries they have only read about. The plan is to travel 8,000 miles in a record 5 months, and arrive at their final destination on Alberto's thirtieth birthday. This doesn't happen however due to their unreliable motorcycle and their abundance of money. At first we see the pair as child like, attempting to see out the remainder of their youth. They bicker, they laugh, and they act on impulse in order to get by. At first we witness Ernesto as an upper class boy in his final semester at college in order to become a doctor. He has the world at his feet and this trip is his last chance to enjoy his surroundings. Alberto is a biochemist and wants to witness South America before he finds a girl and settles down. The trip begins with them enjoying themselves by flirting with women, conning the locals into giving them money and fighting with entire villages. That is until their motorcycle finally breaks completely and they find themselves trekking their way to Peru.
Now having to hitchhike they begin to meet all the people that society hasn't been good too. Communists who must hide from the government, farmers forced off fields by capitalists, and builders moved from their homes in order to build capitol cities. Once they reach Peru the duo are beginning to hate the society they are witnessing and begin to talk about forming a way to create a revolution and help all those in need. A doctor friend of Alberto understands how they feel and sends them to an island where they cater for patients with leprosy. The two men spend three weeks there and are appalled to see that the sick are treated like animals. They are made to live on the island whilst the doctors live on land, they have to use a smaller more cramped boat to travel back and forth compared to the doctors having a much spacious boat, and the doctors insist that they must when gloves when treating these patients. The duo are angered at this do all they can to help the patients feel like people. On Ernesto's birthday he chooses to swim to the island to spend it with the patients, despite being thrown a party by the doctors. He is slowly beginning to realise that everyone should be treated equally. At the end of the film the road trip ends and each go their separate ways, but we all know that Ernesto is heading home in preparation to become a leader of a revolution and transform into Che, a man that changed the world.
I will begin with the positives with the film. The acting is top notch. Bernal and De la Serna are on good form and are utterly believable as the people they are portraying. The rest of the actors could be mistaken for real life residents, but as far as I am aware they could have been. The story comes with a little humour which is always a bonus, and it is intriguing to see the beginnings of a man who is plastered all over t-shirts in South America.
My problem with the movie is that I don't really know much about Che. I am aware another movie has been made on him starring Benicio Del Torro, but that is all I know. I looked him up when the film was finished and I have to say all I really found was that he was a murderer and a terrorist. He helped people gain the freedom of speech but then persecuted them if they didn't follow his beliefs. He was a full blown communist by the sounds of it, and a man who ended up doing more harm than good. He was eventually tracked down by the CIA and killed; so I wander why there is a film documenting his rise, especially since the film paints him as good. In the film he is a gentle, kind man but in reality it seems that he wasn't. The film doesn't really hint at a man who turned to killing in order to stamp his beliefs. If the film showed him as a man with a tendency to become evil it may have worked better. Maybe others will see him as good, but from what I have read it seems to be the opposite.
Also the film at times becomes a little boring. Nothing really happens throughout other than them travelling, meeting people, motorcycle breaking, and then leaving town. It does repeat, especially for the first half. In the second half the tone seems to change, which takes away some of the fun with the first half. Could this highlight a change in him?
All in all it was an average film. After reading up a bit about it I am shocked to see such a bad man shone in a good light. For those who are aware of Che's life, may be disappointed to see how his image is shown. For those of you, like me, who know nothing, may enjoy it more.
3 / 5
Next film to review: CHILDREN OF MEN