Cassandro (2023)
September 28, 2023 9:04 PM - Subscribe

Gael García Bernal stars in a biopic of the openly gay luchador Saúl Armendáriz, whose drag queen''exotico'' character Cassandro was known as "the Liberace of Lucha Libre." The movie follows his rise from low-level amateur to international fame, and his relationships along the way. 91/85 at RT, streaming at Amazon Prime and in theaters. Director Roger Ross Williams had previously directed a 14-minute documentary about Cassandro for the New Yorker, available here.
posted by mediareport (5 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This was right up my alley - gay and had a dad who loved the stuff so I grew up watching TV wrestling every weekend - and it's a fun, well-made biopic with a nice performance by Bernal and good stuff about being yourself in the face of folks trying to bring you down. The wrestling scenes tend to take a back seat to the relationship storylines (Cassandro and his mother, Cassandro and his closeted boyfriend, et al), though there are some fabulous scenes in the ring. The movie overall is surprisingly quiet and understated for a biopic of such a flamboyant persona.

I'm waffling a bit on this because I found myself wanting more. It's pretty straightforward, avoids many gay film clichés, but also doesn't deliver many surprises, or much depth in the storylines. I mean, it presents some deep issues and has powerful moments, but overall mostly seemed to skim over them before moving on to the next episode, some of which didn't have much of a point. The kiss with Bad Bunny (who has a small role as a promoter/drug dealer) was a good example of one of those episodes.

But I liked it, and it was fun and interesting to watch, and some of the wrestling stuff was a total hoot.
posted by mediareport at 9:30 PM on September 28, 2023

Marie Losier has a documentary on Cassandro that I caught on the Criterion Channel a while back. While maybe not the best documentary on Cassandro's story it is a very compelling story and worth seeking out if you liked the biopic.
posted by Ashwagandha at 10:41 AM on September 29, 2023 [1 favorite]

Thanks for that, Ashwagandha; I see she also made a doc about Genesis P-Orridge, which is quite an endorsement. I'll check it out.
posted by mediareport at 7:28 AM on October 1, 2023 [1 favorite]

Gael García Bernal is a delight in this (and also, he does not age). He delivers such a heartfelt, kind performance and I loved watching him.

Mostly, though, this is kind of a nothing movie, though. I like the kindness it told Cassandro's story but it also just seemed too kind in some ways.

I had fun watching this. The performances were good and I get it wasn't meant to be Cassandro's complete story but ... I don't know. I think I wanted a bit more from this, given how well it was reviewed.

Still, Bernal put his whole self in this and I love it for that.
posted by edencosmic at 5:51 PM on October 1, 2023 [1 favorite]

That doc was really good, Ashwagandha, thanks! Very impressionistic and much more sad than the biopic, really showing the physical and mental costs to Armendáriz of both his wrestling career and his addictions. At times toward the end it got a bit too abstract and thin for my taste (my taste in documentary, anyway), but overall it was a fascinating look at a truly unique pop culture star.

The wrestling footage was particularly great, showing Cassandro's talent to the full, and was much better than in the biopic.
posted by mediareport at 6:48 AM on October 12, 2023

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