Monday, September 18, 2023

Cassandro - Movie Review

The Movie: Cassandro

The Director: Roger Ross Williams

The Cast: Gael García Bernal, Roberta Colindrez, Perla De La Rosa, Joaquín Cosío, Raúl Castillo, El Hijo del Santo, Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio

The Story: Follows the true story of Cassandro, the ''exotico'' character created by Saúl Armendáriz, gay amateur wrestler from El Paso who rose to international stardom.

The Review:
I've been a fan of professional wrestling for as long as I can remember. So many of my Saturdays as a young kid were spent in front of the TV in the family room with my dad watching the exploits of Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, The Iron Sheik, and so many other superstars of that world. I never really knew much about the luchador style of wrestling until much later on thanks to people like Rey Mysterio Jr and Eddie Guerrero which I understand is only the very tip top of the iceberg when it comes to that world.

That being said, it was great to see the luchador culture on display in this movie which features the iconic Cassandro, played by Gael García Bernal, one of the most groundbreaking stars of his time. While it was interesting to see his story evolve from small time venues to headlining major arena shows, it was nice to see a focus, at least in the first half of the movie, on the relationship with his mother Yocasta and a standout performance by Perla De La Rosa. This is where the heart and emotion of the story are on full display and it becomes easy to understand just who the man Saúl is behind the Cassandro persona.

If you're looking for high quality wrestling action, this isn't really the place to find it. All of the in ring performances looked like just that. Performances. It was like the actors were doing a walk through of the choreography rather than actually trying to sell any of it which, for this movie, is fine because that's how I also see the movie as a whole. The whole thing just felt like a dress rehearsal that left out a lot of the intended emotion or impact that could have easily been there given Roger Ross Williams' track record as a director.

The Verdict:
Cassandro is a compelling story that lacks an emotional finishing move leaving the end result more like a double count out than a three count for the win. Great performances from Gael García Bernal and Perla De La Rosa help to keep this movie from being a disaqualifying defeat.

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