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Overall Rating

Awesome: 34.57%
Worth A Look43.21%
Just Average: 17.28%
Pretty Crappy: 1.23%
Sucks: 3.7%

6 reviews, 45 user ratings

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Motorcycle Diaries, The
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by Elaine Perrone

"A road trip well worth taking."
4 stars

Before becoming "Ché," an icon of the Cuban Revolution, Ernesto Guevara de la Serna was a medical student in his native Argentina, studying the treatment of leprosy and tropical disease. In 1952, at the age of 23, he and his good friend Alberto Granado, a gregarious 29 year old biochemist who wanted to sow his wild oats before turning 30, embarked on what was to be a grand tour of South America on an ancient Norton motorbike they christened "La Ponderosa" (The Mighty One). As depicted in this engaging and visually stunning recreation of Ernesto's own diaries and Alberto's remembrances, it turned out to be a 12,000 km odyssey of discovery that played a large part in shaping the destiny of both men's lives.

On New Year's Day 1952, Ernesto (Gael García Bernal) and Alberto (Rodrigo De la Serna) set off looking for adventure, with no more in mind than to explore their continent in style, make new friends and lovers along the way, and -- for the fun-loving Alberto -- dance the tango that he loves. When the bike breaks down, they continue their journey on foot or by hitching rides, scrounging their way slowly from Argentina through Chile, Peru, Colombia, and Venezuela. By the time they arrive at their destination, a leper colony on the banks of the Amazon, they have become badly shaken, and their priorities for playing pranks and picking up girls seriously dampened, by the poverty and social injustice they encounter in every village throughout their travels.

Far from being a political movie, though, director Walter Salles, screenwriter Jose Rivera, and cinematographer Eric Gautier have joined forces to craft a lovely film that is at once a sumptuous travelogue, a lively and humorous road adventure, and a moving coming-of-age drama about two carefree young buddies who find their romanticized notions challenged and their perspectives shifted as their eyes are opened to the reality of the world around them.

While the seeds that made Che the revolutionary he became are apparent, here the focus is on the idealistic young Ernesto who compassionately ministers to a dying old woman, giving her his own asthma medicine; who finds a much worthier home for the $15 he has been hoarding for a girlfriend's bathing suit; who, in keeping with his name, earnestly tells a generous doctor what he really thinks of his first novel; and who defies a long-standing ban against physical contact with the lepers by being the first person to shake their hands and care for them without wearing protective gloves.

Guevara wote in his diaries, "I'll leave you now, with myself, the man I used to be." The real Alberto Granado, now 82 years old, is shown near the end of the film, a living tribute to the young men who used to be.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=8513&reviewer=376
originally posted: 09/24/04 14:39:06
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Edinburgh Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Edinburgh Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Vancouver Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Vancouver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Toronto Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Palm Springs Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Palm Springs Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Brisbane Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Brisbane Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

8/01/10 chris. I wonder...who is it that is innocent of murder? 5 stars
1/23/10 plgrm It'd be nice if Hollywood, instead of indulging in self-serving mythmaking, 2 stars
11/12/07 ercadel getereralge 4 stars
4/28/07 Christine Good story, very complex ,and makes you think. 5 stars
1/02/07 Charles Tatum Inspiring as in "I want to overthrow the govt and kill people"? 3 stars
9/28/06 Jin inspiring and very unique 5 stars
8/29/06 Jake An entertaining movie about a communist 4 stars
5/23/06 Bert Best movie ever, best story ever told! 5 stars
11/21/05 Kurtis J. Beard Poetic film. Visually stunning. Great acting. 4 stars
11/03/05 Bad Critic A very good movie. Strong performances and a great plot. 4 stars
11/03/05 Madd Mooper A solid enough film, enjoyable on a certain level although don't look for greatness 4 stars
8/29/05 Nick Kraemer great imagery. great story. doesn't get caught up in politics 5 stars
7/12/05 the grinch the "legend" was a murderer,READ and find out who this guy really was,movie sucked too 1 stars
6/10/05 Simon Solid. Its focus seems misguided due to some faulty filmmaking at times, but overall good. 4 stars
5/08/05 Alex Amazing performances, great movie!!. A life changing experience, South America's reality 5 stars
3/28/05 Phil M. Aficionado Visually stunning, but left me with a "where's the beef" reaction 3 stars
3/28/05 JoannaVan Langen LOVED it! LOved it!! Loved it!!! 5 stars
2/17/05 dian anderson GREAT MOVIE 5 stars
1/29/05 Carrie Hubbard All I could say for this movie was, Huh? 1 stars
12/30/04 y2mckay Solid film and top performances, De La Serna steals movie 4 stars
12/24/04 green gremlin All those multinational corporations ceo's deserve to be locked up in a filthy leper colony 5 stars
12/19/04 Landshark But for our own biases going in, we'd probably call "Diaries" a lesson in values 5 stars
12/13/04 Gary Coulter Fantastic insight into the man, as opposed to the legend. 5 stars
12/06/04 Elisa Excellent 5 stars
11/28/04 Peteco Very good. 4 stars
11/24/04 drfardook Visually excellent. Performances good. Editing needs a little tweak. 4 stars
11/04/04 your worst goddamn nightmare Very Very good film. The latter part was a little too overdrawn tho... 4 stars
11/02/04 Hillary Roth powerful 5 stars
10/28/04 Dennis Nice movie, but probably better if you have an interest in south america 4 stars
10/28/04 Maria Captures the moment beautifully 5 stars
10/23/04 Suzz excellent film/great performances all around 5 stars
10/19/04 Jenna very cool movie 5 stars
10/19/04 Betsy beautiful translation of a truly inspiring book 5 stars
10/18/04 Dave See it's Karma, leave your Dogma in the lobby. 5 stars
10/18/04 Helga Fellay excellent 5 stars
10/17/04 Judith Levitt Wonderful, informative as well as beautifullly done 5 stars
10/17/04 Stevo This movie is powerfully written and beautifully acted. 5 stars
10/10/04 Kay Sarich I thought the film was excellent, it really made me want to do good in the world. 5 stars
10/06/04 Ted C An awesome inspiring delightful visual feast for the eyes 5 stars
9/28/04 Betsy Brain-dead salute to a thug and terrioist - Redford is deep in the loony left 1 stars
9/14/04 jim great 5 stars
8/15/04 Christine Todd Inspiring and real 5 stars
5/11/04 Marina Veiga beautiful and very funny 5 stars
3/12/04 Roberto De La Serna Awesome says it all 5 stars
2/08/04 Sophie Great film. Almost historically accurate 5 stars
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  24-Sep-2004 (R)
  DVD: 15-Feb-2005



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