Stars: *** 1/2
Rating: R for strong language and some sexuality
Run Time: 2 hours, 6 minutes
Gael Garcia Bernal inhabits the spirit of Ernesto “Che” Guevara de la Serna with the vim and vigor he brought to Y Tu Mamá También and Amores Perros.
Motorcycle is a road-trip with a soul. Privileged Buenos Aireans Ernesto and pal
Alberto Granado (Rodrigo de la Serna) have a plan: five hundred miles over four
months by way of a broken-down 1939 Norton 500 motorbike, affectionately known
as “The Mighty One”.
backdrops of early 1950s
This isn’t your cookie-cutter voyage of self-discovery, involving as it were thwarted romances, the humor of foiled transportation (Mighty One not so mighty after all), the infinite sorrow of proud civilizations reduced to poverty, and a lengthy stint at a formal leper colony. Eight months and 8,000 miles later, Ernesto’s got himself a highly elevated social conscience that will influence his adult life in spectacular and historical ways.
Ernesto’s story is as riveting as it is simplistic, his upper-middle class roots and slow burn to free himself from narrow-minded provincialism transforming the shy young medical student into a fierce revolutionary and ultimately an anti-capitalist icon.
Bernal plays it cool, self-effacing and charismatic with a thinking-man’s buzz. Granado is the ideal foil, the comic sidekick with heart and brains to boot. Pace is deliberate (a bit too much so), Eric Gautier’s cool camerawork refreshingly no-frills and the original diary-to-screenplay translation (based on Guevara’s book of the same name) exceptionally skillful. Quietly inspiring and rarely over-stepping its bounds, Motorcycle may have Oscar calling.