Seven years ago, Mexican cuties and real-life buddies Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna charmed the birds out of the trees as young men on a road trip to sexual maturity in Y Tu Mama También, directed by Alfonso Cuaron from a script he wrote with his younger brother, Carlos. In Rudo y Cursi, the two actors — now with international clout — shake those branches again. To complete the circle, the production is written and directed by Carlos Cuaron and produced by, among others, Alfonso.
The brothers-making-a-movie-about-?brothers backstory makes for publicity, but Rudo y Cursi is a sly miniaturist pleasure on its own terms, a piquant fable about the bouncing ups and downs of success, failure, competition, and comradeship. (The title means ”Tough and Corny,” a fair summation of the characters’ contrasting personalities, though the boys’ names are actually Beto and Tato.) Luna (Beto/Rudo) and Garcia Bernal (Tato/Cursi) play siblings who work at a banana plantation and play local soccer for the love of the sport until they are discovered by a scout (Guillermo Francella). The fast life as professional athletes beckons — and so, inevitably, does the temptation to squander the talent and bonds they possess for the immediate gratification of what they think they want. The intimate movie hums with a back-in-the-hood vibe that gets the two stars playing contentedly, and delightfully, for the love of local filmmaking. B+