Don Reviews "Cassandro"
If you follow our show, you know I have been a lifelong fan of professional wrestling. It truly is a soap opera for men, and I have followed a lot of the mainstream companies, but the Lucha Libre styles from Mexico and Central America were never really on my radar. Don’t get me wrong: I highly respect those companies, but they were never really accessible to me outside of any featured matches on the shows available on my local cable provider. This is part of why Cassandro was so interesting to me.
Roger Ross Williams makes his full-length directorial debut in the story with Gael Garcia Bernal in the title role alongside Roberta Colindrez, Raul Castillo, Robert Salas, the legendary El Hijo del Santos, and international music superstar Bad Bunny. Saul “Cassandro” Armendariz is a hopeful luchador in El Paso, trying to make a career as wrestler while at the same time trying to keep his life as a gay man a secret. He is also undersized compared to the others, but with the help of a new trainer in Sabrina (Colindrez), they create his character as something known as an “exotico” that helps him blur the line between reality and fantasy to the audience.
Bernal is wonderful as Armendariz in a role that reminded me of Mickey Rourke’s character in The Wrestler, and after working with the WWE on a couple of occasions, Bad Bunny is able to call on those skills to make his performance spot-on as well. Being filmed in the El Paso area, this really shows the neighborhoods and conditions that Armendariz grew up and worked in very well alongside a visual style that helped tell his story.
From a storytelling angle, the first half is good, but I thought the plot just got predictable, jumbled, and diluted in the second half. Cassandro runs just over an hour and forty-five minutes, but uneven pacing between the two halves of the film made it feel too long. Honestly, it got to the point where I found myself bored the longer it went because a lot of that part of the story seemed unnecessary. Would I recommend this film? Yes, I would. However, since it is not getting a theatrical release and going straight to Amazon Prime, I would recommend it if you already have Prime and have already got caught up on the weekly new releases of the other shows you watch on it.