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aka - Diarios De Motocicleta
USA/United Kingdom/Argentina/Germany 2004
Directed by
Walter Salles
128 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Peter Krausz
4 stars

Motorcycle Diaries, The

The Motorcycle Diaries is based on the journals of Che Guevara, leader of the Cuban Revolution, and those of his best friend Alberto Granado, recorded while crossing South America by motorcycle in the early 1950s.

The "road movie" as a kind of psychological, personal and often serendipitous journey of discovery and revelation is a robust genre that has presented audiences with a range of complex issues and character developmente. Walter Salles' film encompasses many of the features of this category.

The journey of the two main protagonists is replete with humour, tragedy and poignancy as Che Guevara and Alberto Granado (excellently played respectively by Gael Garcia Bernal and Rodrigo de la Serna), visit Argentina, Chile. Peru and Colombia culminating with their endpoint in Venezuela. Guevara battles his poor lung condition, makes his blunt assessment of people he meets and develops a growing concern about the poverty endemic to the areas they visit. Their major stop over at a leper colony solidifies Guevara's emerging political consciousness, while for Granado, his more lackadaisical and hedonistic journey solidifies his eventual life decision.

Walter Salles, who is well known for directing another road movie with generational overtones, Central Station (1998), is a director who uses personal journeys to explore his character's motivations and evolution. With The Motorcycle Diaries he imbues his characters with humanistic touches and personal battles in order to reveal in sub-text the social and political milieu of the period. The film is not overtly political but certainly resonates with sociopolitical "commentary", especially exemplified by the use of still photos and static shots.

At once a subtle and beautifully observed film, shot in Spanish with English subtitles and executive produced by Robert Redford, The Motorcycle Diaries is a major release for 2004 and film of real quality.




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