The Motorcycle Diaries

Review Date:
Director: Walter Salles
Writer: Jose Rivera
Producers: Michael Nozik, Edgard Tenenbaum, Karen Tenkhoff
Gael Garcia Bernal as Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, Rodrigo de la Serna as Alberto Granado, Mía Maestro as Chichina Ferreyra
Based on the actual written words of both Che Guevara and his buddy Alberto Granado, this film covers the motorcycle-based road trip that the two boys took over 10,000 kilometers of South American soil when they were still young and hungry for life. The trip encompasses their adventures with the road, the girls, the elements, the downtrodden and ultimately, the leper colony at which the two doctors-to-be end up studying.
How is a revolutionary born? Well, if you thought that they were usually born out of impoverishment, abuse, a lifetime of hate and vengeance, you better think twice as one of the world’s most popularized revolutionaries, Ernesto Guevara (better known to many as ‘Che’ Guevara), turns out to be an idealistic, doctor with a caring, well-living family, but whose one major road trip across his own country and others, sparks in him a light that would ultimately turn into a fire for the people. I really liked this film on various levels, beginning with its basic idea of the “road trip”, which is appealing to start, the great relationship established and developed between the two lead gentlemen, the solid acting chops from everyone involved, the palpable sense of time, place and culture, but ultimately, the feel of “life”, the idea of a being greater than oneself living in all of us and a very honest message about the dehumanization of our society, through the greed and industrialization of the modern world. Now all that might sound a little “heavy” to you, but the film doesn’t force anything down your throat, or preach in any shape or form, in fact, most of the movie focuses on the so-called adventures of these two doctors, reminding me a little of the Depp/Del Toro connection in FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS. Laughs are also sprinkled throughout the film, mostly thanks to the light-hearted and horny nature of Che’s right-hand man during the trip, Alberto Granado (played by Rodrigo de la Serna), while the film’s pacing, eye-catching settings and exploratory nature provide further strength to its narrative.

But at the base of the film is the awakening, the “discovery” — if you will — of a man’s soul, a man’s raison-d’etre-the inspiration that led one individual to challenge an entire system. It’s impressive because deep-down, we all seek to answer those otherworldly questions about “why” we exist, what our roles are in the world today and how, and if, we are making anything better around us (or simply toiling away in the nothingness of our useless daily existence). Am I getting too philosophical here? Maybe. But ultimately, that’s the spirit beneath this film’s basic structure that takes it to that other level, that place that will hopefully inspire one other person to believe or strive to become something other than the status quo. The film actually felt a little divided in two, with the first half, dealing on a more personal level with the boys and their road-side adventures, while the second half finally set them into motion at a leper colony, with more serious topics and life’s questions coming into play. I must confess that I’m pretty ignorant when it comes to the actual history of Che Guevara, but this film provided me with some great insight into the man (or at the very least, his beginnings– I want to learn more now), as well as the whole concept of lepers and their daily struggles. Overall, I can’t pretend that this is a film that will vie well commercially (although it’d be great if it did), but it certainly should fulfill all major movie buffs, especially those who appreciate the mix of history and film, more reflective and contemplative types of stories and those who like a little “foreign” action along with their steady diet of American flicks. I was inspired and taken by this tale of the road and would heartily recommend it to anyone who connects to anything this film seems to want to say, or anything that I’ve rambled about in the past couple of paragraphs. Viva la revolutionne! (sorry, I just had to)

(c) 2021 Berge Garabedian

Viewer Ratings (0 reviews)

Add your rating