The Motorcycle Diaries

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Ernesto Guevera (Gael Garcia Bernal), better known as Che, is soon to graduate college, which means his life must soon have direction. He loves to have fun and embark on adventures, but he is now 23 years old, so he needs more focus in his life. Before that happens, he decides to have one last great adventure, a long distance trek across South America. He won’t be alone however, as his best friend Alberto Granada (Rodrigo De La Serna) will be with him. The two will serve a medial residency in a leper colony, one which is quite a distance from their homes, so a long journey is ahead of them. As the two friends drive off on a motorcycle, they look forward to fun times, meeting some ladies, and just having the best time possible. After all, real life can wait, at least this trek has come to an end. But not long after the trip begins, the tone shifts from light to serious, thanks to the people and places the two encounter. Che soon begins to see what he should do with his life, as he takes an immense interest in what he sees. The two men left as best friends on the same path, but Che now has a new path to travel, even if he must travel it alone.

This film was one of the more critically acclaimed releases of 2004, with numerous awards and nominations, including some Oscar attention. I live in a small town, but even in my neck of the woods, The Motorcycle Diaries hit the screen and audiences were brisk. I have to admit, I found this to be a well made movie in most respects, but the entertainment value wasn’t there. A movie is supposed to make you feel the highs and lows, put you right on the road with the characters, so that you feel involved. I didn’t have that kind of connection, as I found the film to be well crafted, yet distant. The performances are great, including Gael Garcia Bernal’s quite impressive turn that is sure to draw him much attention. Even so, this seems like a great performance inside of a technically sound, yet hollow production. I’ve read the book and found it to be solid, but for some reason, The Motorcycle Diaries didn’t move me as a motion picture. Universal’s disc is well prepared, with a nice assortment of bonus features, so for fans, it is a solid investment. I still recommend this as a rental, as I didn’t care for the film myself, but I know a lot of people who enjoyed The Motorcycle Diaries.

Video: How does it look?

The Motorcycle Diaries is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. I was quite pleased with this treatment, as Universal has secured a very clean print and done an excellent job porting this film to DVD. I did some minor nicks and grain at times, but the print looks very good and shows minimal defects. I found the colors to be well replicated, though this film uses a warmer than average scope, so keep that in mind. The movie has a lot of outdoor scenes and contrast is top notch here, delivering accurate shadow detail and well balanced black levels at all times.

Audio: How does it sound?

This movie might not be as loaded as an action picture, but there is a need for a top flight soundtrack, which Universal has provided. We’re taken inside the world of the film thanks to the included Dolby Digital 5.1 option, which balances the elements quite well. The surrounds are used with care, to add to the eerie environment, but the presence never overwhelms, it walks that line with care and the end result is fantastic. The music also has some solid presence and adds to the experience, without a doubt. The dialogue is crisp and easy to understand, with the original Spanish soundtrack used on this release. This disc also includes a French language track, as well as subtitles in English and French.

Supplements: What are the extras?

A few featurettes headline the extras section, one with Alberto Granado detailing his real life experiences, a general behind the scenes piece, and two interviews with star Bernal. All these are worth a look, but if you want to skip one, you could miss the behind the scenes piece and not miss much. The interviews in the other pieces are quite good, with candid and personal recollections. Bernal discusses his craft at length, as well as his thoughts on the film’s subject matter. This disc also includes some deleted scenes, as well as an interview with composer Gustavo Santaolalla.

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