"The Motorcycle Diaries" is an adaptation of a journal written by Ernesto "Che" Guevara in 1950 when he was 23-years old. The movie begins with Ernesto and his friend Alberto Granado planning a trip across South America to do their medical residency at a leper colony. On the surface, that's all it is, two young men on a road trip on their old Norton 500 looking for fun, adventure and chicks before they undertake the pressures of being full-grown doctors.Their raw humour and quirky antics will entertain you as they drag you across some of the harsh terrains of Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Brazil and Peru. Along the way they meet a range of people from the towns and cities they pass through, each one changing them, leaving their mark and pushing them further toward their destiny. The performances from de la Serna and Bernal are so seamless you can almost smell their world and feel their emotions.The subtlety of the film is unnerving, you find yourself waiting for something to happen, expecting something more dramatic around each corner. But this is no Hollywood in-your-face account of a hero's life, it is a story of how events, people and life can change you without you even noticing, slowly revealing you to yourself.
There is a quiet quality about Bernal's character, nothing outwardly disturbs him - you have to have a closer look to see any kind emotion. There are no fits of anger, no screaming bouts, even when he comes close to death during an asthma attack he does it with the type of finesse about which a Hollywood film can only dream.When Alberto and Ernesto reach the end of their journey and take up residency at a leper colony, it becomes evident how much both of them have grown. The characters at the colony complete the realism of the film, their desperation and their warmth towards the young doctors will tug at the heartstrings.From here you sense what is near, their lives are taking different directions and their carefree days are gone. Again, Walter Salles could have over-dramatised their parting but instead he chooses to celebrate it as they part ways, each to live their own lives.
"The Motor Cycle Diaries" is not about the great Che everyone knows, it is a story about a boy experiencing life on his way to becoming a man, albeit a great one.
- By Ashlin Simpson
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