Everything in life is a bet: The soccer ball hits the goal post and bounces out, or it bounces in and becomes a goal. What does the result depend on? Destiny, of course… and the effect one imprints on the ball when kicking it. --Darío "Batuta" Vidali
Rudo y Cursi (Tough and Corny) is a fable about success and its downfalls; about talent, magic and passion… A kiss to you all! --Tato "Corny" Verdusco
Rudo y Cursi (Tough and Corny) is the story of the best freaking goalie that this country has ever had; tragic and comic, just like life itself… and about his corny brother. --Beto "Tough" Verdusco
Beto (Diego Luna) and Tato (Gael García Bernal) Verdusco are brothers who work at a banana plantation and also play soccer for the village team. Nicknamed "Tough" because of his personality and football style, Beto dreams of becoming a professional soccer player; Tato's dream is to be a famous singer, and both share the dream of building a house for their mother, Elvira (Dolores Heredia). They have a change in luck when "Batuta", a soccer talent scout, discovers them accidentally. Tato is the first to move to the big city where he becomes the star goal scorer for the prestigious Deportivo Amaranto (Amaranto Club). His baroque playing style earns him the nickname of "Corny". Although Beto feels he has been betrayed and left behind, he soon travels to Mexico City to become the goalkeeper for Atlético Nopaleros (Nopaleros Team). At the peak of glory, they forget all animosity, although it does not last long. At the very real possibility of fulfilling all of their dreams, the siblings must face an innate rivalry as well as their own demons and limitations. Beto is a gambler and allows his addiction to drag him down; Tato is unable to recognize his true talents and squanders every opportunity by pursuing a false idea of celebrity and status. The dream seems to slip through their fingers. And it is at their worst moment that the brothers find forgiveness trying to help each other while casting headlong towards their individual destiny.
The Producer's Vision
Alfonso Cuarón: Rudo y Cursi (Tough and Corny) is a drama with a tragic element; but it is dealt with that very generous tone of Carlos' that is packed with a sense of humour. This is why it can be confused with comedy, because the script is completely pleasant, fun and mirthful; there is a lot of laughter. I believe that the fundamental subject that this story deals with is the relationship between brothers. It is as much a story of rivalry as it is a story of love in which, if this competition exists, it comes from the need of being accepted by their mother. I think that our films, both Carlos' and mine, are in many ways autobiographic, not from an anecdotic point of view but rather from an emotional one. I do not feel that Rudo y Cursi (Tough and Corny) depicts the relationship between Carlos and one of his siblings, but that to a certain extent, it is a portrait of two parts that co-exist within Carlos himself: on the one hand he is the roughest and most brusque chap, and on the other, he is the mushiest and corniest.
It all began when Carlos told me that this was the movie he wanted to direct and asked me to help him produce it. That said, my collaboration with Carlos would have been the same if I produced the film or not. The intervention of Alejandro González and Guillermo del Toro was what really contributed something to the whole thing. What we tried to do was to create an environment where Carlos could count with all the necessary tools and the proper creative space. That is something that, as producer, I am really proud of. I have produced quite a lot, and for me, the way it should be done is the same way I would like to be produced myself: to have all the tools available, but to be left alone and, at the same time, to be able to have someone with whom creatively bounce ideas. Carlos' initial intention was to create an unconventional film. When he changed his writer's hat to the director's one, he also accepted the responsibility of the film language, the visual language in respect to the narrative. From the beginning, Carlos had defined the rhythm of his camera: he wanted to come close to the scenes he was describing, something quite risky in cinematographic terms because it limits your action field when you go into editing. Nonetheless, I believe this is where the best films are created because you can find a cinematographic intention and each frame means something.
This project has also been a celebration of friendship. For Alejandro, Guillermo and myself, it marks an important moment, as this is the first film we produce under the label Cha Cha Chá, the company we started together. We have collaborated in many projects over the years, but we had never made it official before. Gael and Diego are another essential part of this film --and of this family. The script gave us an excuse to get them together again, and to make this as a big family reunion.
Alejandro González Iñárritu: Personally, I feel very attracted by the main subject of rivalry between brothers. It is a universal story told within the context of the most popular sport around the globe: soccer. It is through this sport that the exploration of the brothers' two completely different paths in their journey takes place as they come into conflict, as they disagree in their point of view about life, in a life-and-death rivalry just like Cain and Able. This is a subject matter that has always been of interest to me; and here it is taken within the family core, the context where tragedy develops at its best. One of the great virtues of this story is that it presents us with the opportunity of the parallel observation of two different realities and how a change in their surroundings has an effect on two different beings. There is a universe that is much more complex than just the rural or the urban environment; it is not one or the other, it is both together. This is a great contribution from the script. Migratory movements to Mexico City happen every day, and they are motivated by conquering a dream -fame, power, exposure-. And every day there are huge disappointments.
I've known Carlos for many years and I have always admired his intelligence and sense of humour. He has made short films and scripts where he has demonstrated great talent; in them, he denotes his experience and trade. Carlos has a clear vision of what staging is and of the dramatic objectives, of how to tell these objectives not only with words but also in images. He is a director with a point of view, a universe that needs to be exposed in a very particular way, in a way only he can do it. What surprises in his scriptwriting is that he has the virtue of writing something that seems flippant and that he is able to go deep through this "superficiality", into the most profound things of the human being. Always with the virtue of the economy of emotions, characteristic of intelligent comedy. He does not tell you what to see or feel, somehow he allows you to choose within the frame what to look at because he presents a portrait of the world just as it is. It is not a realistic movie, it is a truthful one.
This film has been a reciprocal process in which everyone has learnt from everyone else. It has been as if working with family. Somehow, Carlos has always assisted me with my scripts.
Guillermo del Toro: The development of Rudo y Cursi (Tough and Corny) was long and mysterious. What is nice is that during the journey we realized that the only one who truly knew all the inner recesses of the story, was Carlos; there was no other option to direct it. He wholly owns the story and the tone. What I like the most is having discovered that the narrative beat of the film is so different to Alfonso's. The film has a very deceitful simplicity. The filming and direction of actors have a huge wisdom to them, but it feels deceitfully fluent and natural. There are moments in which I have been involved in or I have read many times a script Carlos wrote, and I always find that they contain acuteness, mordacity and a great human empathy in them. Now that he has directed his first feature film, I find all these qualities present as well. What surprised me was the maturity with which he carried it out.
One of the earliest decisions Carlos made -one of which picked my interest in the movie- was that it was not a film about soccer, but at the same time because it was absent, it was very present in the life of the main characters. The shadow that soccer casts penetrates in the life of all characters to a degree that it would be impossible for this universe to work out without it. It is an extremely important element. This portrait is best achieved in how it affects people while maintaining that element perversely outside instead of including it. Everyone is radiated by a football that is off screen. The same happens when dealing with the subject of corruption. The movie has an incisive social commentary, but it successfully melts in harmony without one theme overflowing the others.
We are all part of the same brotherhood because we all come from the same film conformation. We are fond of each other. In a way, we have the same cinematographic taste. The fact that the whole film was made by brothers is very honest.
Las Rudas (the tough ones)--Alfonso Cuarón
The concept of "tough and corny" first appeared during a trip that Carlos and I did when I was 25 and he was 20 years old. We went on this road trip because Carlos had never been to the dessert. We used the family Nissan that we had to push to get it started. At first, we went to San Luis Potosí, and when we arrived, [Carlos] asked me:
"But… where are the dunes?"
"What dunes? For that, we need to go to the dessert in Chihuahua".
"Well, let's go see the dunes".
"But Chihuahua is still about a day and a half away".
"But we are already here, let's go".
We did, and we saw the dunes. We were looking at the map and realized that we were practically at the border with Arizona, about a day and a half away from the Grand Canyon; so we went to the Grand Canyon. Carlos was wearing his jeans, a denim jacket, a denim hat -one he still sometimes uses when directing-, and his sunglasses. While we were looking around, he stood up and climbed a rock. Around that part, there were two "gringuitos" (American kids) of about 12 years of age just walking around and they stopped to stare at Carlos and said:
"Wow! Don't you think he's tough?"
"Nah, he's corny".
And just kept walking.
The Director's Vision - Carlos Cuarón
Rudo y Cursi (Tough and Corny) was like a family project, literally, as one of the producers (Alfonso Cuarón) is my brother, the other two (Alejandro González Iñárritu and Guillermo del Toro) are very dear friends, Diego and Gael are my buddies and the rest of the crew became my creative kin. We were able to create a big family in which we were all united by the same cause. Alejandro, Guillermo and Alfonso explained everything that could happen and everything I could feel while directing my first feature. Diego and Gael explained and had opinions about everything they wanted in regards to acting issues. So I was very sheltered.
What else can one ask, but that your producers be people that understand filmmaking creatively and that are willing to help at all times and contribute extremely valuable advise with the talent, trade and experience that they have? It's having the best of both worlds because they not only can support you financially and in when it comes to logistics of filming through their experience as producers, but creatively through the constant feedback I received from them.
Diego and Gael gave its best to the characters. It was an extremely pleasant process to see how out of nowhere they were suddenly there in flesh and bone, characters that had nothing in common with the actors. At the beginning, they were puzzled becuase Diego said that because of his nature, he was Cursi (Corny) and Gael felt the same way with Rudo (Rough), and I agreed with them; but that is exactly why I did not want to cast them like that, I wanted to make a film that went against their natural personality.
Guillermo Francella ("Batuta") is the best-known and most famous comedian in Buenos Aires. To begin with, I was surprised by the fact that he wanted to participate in a casting process, and later on by his great humility when working. He fully grasped that I was not looking for Francella the comedian, but the actor and that is exactly what he delivered: a real Batuta that is credible from beginning to end. Working with Guillermo was a delectable experience.
The creative work is not what one imagines. At the beginning, you have an idea of what you want your work of art -book or film- to be; but in reality, you build upon it every day. As I wrote and directed the film, I did have an image for certain things, but I had no concrete expectations because I was very much in the present tense of creation, there was nothing else for me.
To say that life is like football is almost commonplace. In life, you have penalties, corners, warnings… in a way it is a mirror of society, a microcosm of what happens in the world. In this case, soccer is a metaphor for life and life becomes a metaphor of the game. What I tried to do, was a faithful portrait of Mexican society. For me, Rudo y Cursi (Tough and Corny) has a tone of realistic drama, more than a comedy, but what happens is that there is a lot of sense of humour.
Originally, I had conceived Rudo y Cursi (Tough and Corny) as a mockumentary about Tato, a player from humble origins that attains glory within professional soccer, but disappears mysteriously and becomes a legend. When I told Diego and Gael the story, they both wanted to play Tato, which was really cool. The problem was that there was only one character. That is when I realized that I wanted to work with both of them together again and I had to grow the story to two characters. The first thing that came to my mind was the image of two soccer players solving an intimate drama right before shooting a penalty in front of a full stadium. Then I thought, why not make them siblings, and I started constructing the story backwards.
In me, all creative process is chaotic; nothing comes in order. I put it in order as the ideas follow each other. It was very complicated to write the script, as complicated as the production itself. Writing is very difficult for me, so is directing. I enjoy it all the time, but both are difficult processes. I had to rewrite at very unusual -or strange- moments, during a very intense preproduction, because there was no other choice. It is a very different process when the story is discovered by the screenwriter then when the director discovers it. For the first one, it is almost a literary fact where he finds drama and coherence, for the later, it is closer to knowing how to carry it out.
I hope that honesty and authenticity are what bring people to the theatres. Beyond the cast, it is a unique concept that deals with a universal subject matter -brotherhood-, which we all have experienced one way or the other. Besides, the story is told within a very rich context: the banana plantation and coastal context, and the approach to the dark and bright sides of how professional soccer happens in this country (even though it is NOT a sports film).
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
CARLOS CUARÓN (Director and Sceenwriter)
Carlos Cuarón was born in Mexico City in 1966. He studied English Literature at the UNAM (Mexico's National University), took part in Hernán Lara Zavala's narrative workshop, followed by Syd Field's screen writing workshop and the Screenwriters Lab at the Sundance Institute. He has been a FONCA grant holder and is the author of short stories and stage plays such as 'Llantas contra el pavimento', 'Zapatos y alpargatas', 'Puro y natural', and 'Coco Tuétano y la rebelión de las armas'.
In 1988, Carlos started collaborating with his brother Alfonso by co-writing several episodes of the TV series "La hora marcada". After that, following an idea they both came up with, Carlos wrote the script for the film Sólo con tu pareja (Love in the Time of Hysteria) which starred Daniel Giménez Cacho and Claudia Ramírez. The film was very successful in Mexico, won the Ariel Award for Best Original Screenplay for Carlos and Alfonso, and was nominated to three more Ariel Awards, among which were Best First Feature for Alfonso and Best Cinematography for Emmanuel Lubezki.
In 1997, Carlos directed his first short film, Sístole Diástole, starring Salma Hayek and Lumi Cavazos. That same year, he co-wrote ¿Quién diablos es Juliette? (Who the Hell is Juliette?) directed by Carlos Marcovich, which won two Ariel Awards and several other awards at festivals such as Guadalajara, La Habana, Cartagena and Sundance.
Next, Carlos wrote and directed short films such as Noche de bodas (2000), which was selected for the Critic's Week at the Cannes Film Festival, and Me la debes (You Owe Me One!) (2001). Meanwhile, Carlos and Alfonso co-wrote Y tu mamá también, which starred Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna. This film achieved an incredible international critical and commercial success, and was awarded, among many other prizes and nominations, the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival for Best Screenplay and Oscar and BAFTA nominations for Best Original Screenplay.
In 2002, Carlos wrote and directed his next short film, Juego de niños (Child's Play); as well as the TV short films No me digan Hugo, Amor perdido and Amor al Tri, which humorously deal with issues related to soccer. The following year, he wrote El misterio del Trinidad, a film that was directed by José Luis García Agraz, and won two Ariel Awards and was nominated to seven more, among which was Best Original Screenplay.
In 2005, Carlos wrote and directed the short film Ofelia. At the same time, he was co-creator and producer of a series of television animated mini-episodes called "Poncho Balón va a la final", which aired in Spain and several countries in Latin America during the 2006 World Cup in Germany. In 2007, he was invited to take part of a round table on "Soccer players that write and writers that play soccer" ("Futbolistas que escriben y escritores que futbolean").
Carlos worked for several years on the Rudo y Cursi (Tough and Corny) script. It is also his feature directorial debut and the first production done by Cha Cha Chá, Alfonso Cuarón, Guillermo del Toro and Alejandro González Iñárritu's production company.
Gael and Diego's Vision: Gael García Bernal (Tough!)/ Diego Luna (Corny!)
TOUGH AND CORNY ANECDOTES FROM THE CAST AND CREW
THE ART OF WORLD CINEMA