Diarios de motocicleta (2004)
The story about the young Che Guevara and his friend Alberto Granado's trip across the South American continent is handled by Brazilian director Walter Salles (Centralo do Brazil) with gentle dignity. His direction is simplistic but passionate as he keeps in mind that this is a portrait of a young, adventurous, intelligent man about to work out his ideologies. The film wisely stays away from becoming too political or too suggesting and it doesn't take a stand towards Guevara's later feats. It simply wants to take a nuanced look at a man who's about to grow up and at the social situations they find themselves midst.
Diarios de motocicleta is wise enough to not become overly ambitious. It is more about passion and people than about events, and it is a beautiful and sincere film in that respect. You get the feeling that many of the people "interviewed" here aren't only performing. That shows the film's level of intimacy with the milieus it depicts. The performances by the two leads are truthful and very strong. Gael García Bernal is emerging as one of the most talented actors of his generation, and portrays Guevara cleverly receptive as a searching but open soul. As his friend, Alberto, Rodrigo de la Serna makes an impressive feature film debut with a fiery performance, and between them they create a low-key but warm friendship. There is humour in this film, but also a sense of detached gloom that can be interpreted as a foresight to the life Che Guevara was about to embark on. Walter Salles implies a lot without explicitly saying them and without being assertive. To this film, that quality is decisive and makes for one of the best balanced and most enchanting films of the year.