Sundance 2023: “Cassandro”

Rating: 3 out of 5.

We all need a supportive figure in our lives, not when we’re laughing and happy, but when the entire world is willing to go against us. It’s like getting into an unequal fight and coming out victorious. But how long will that victory last, or how many more losses must one endure to realize – it’s time to reinvent oneself and prove that stereotypes are meant to be broken?

Based on the true story of the “exotico” character Cassandro (Gael Garcia Bernal), created by Saúl Armendáriz, a gay amateur wrestler from El Paso. His desire is to become a star, and is tired of playing El Topo, a masked wrestler who is expected to lose every single game. But after meeting a new trainer, Sabrina, he realizes his potential and creates a new name for himself. First, he becomes the character who is hated by everyone because he is gay. But once the spectators see in him what the rest of the wrestlers do not have, he becomes a big hit instantly.

Screenplay written by Roger Ross Williams and David Teague and directed by Roger Ross Williams, the film captures the beautiful relationship of Cassandro with his mother, while his father has been unavailable to him since the age of 15 when the young man came out. With an exceptional performance by Gael Garcia Bernal, and how he embodies Cassandro, capturing his strength and weaknesses, and how, despite the hatred of crows, he reinvents himself for good. Wrestling or being a wrestler is not easy, especially when you are considered an outsider. But Cassandro proves everyone wrong by beginning to conquer, first, the smaller stage of wrestling and then the bigger one.

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