Tough and Corny: Rudo y Cursi by Carlos Cuaron

Carlos Cuaron is the writer-director of Rudo y Cursi (Tough and Corny), which is being released by Sony Pictures Classics on May 8, 2009. 

For Carlos, Rudo y Cursi (Tough and Corny) was like a family project, literally, as one of the producers (Alfonso Cuarón) is my brother, the other two (Alejandro González Iñárritu and Guillermo del Toro) are very dear friends, Diego and Gael are my buddies and the rest of the crew became my creative kin. We were able to create a big family in which we were all united by the same cause. Alejandro, Guillermo and Alfonso explained everything that could happen and everything I could feel while directing my first feature. Diego and Gael explained and had opinions about everything they wanted in regards to acting issues. So I was very sheltered.

What else can one ask, but that your producers be people that understand filmmaking creatively and that are willing to help at all times and contribute extremely valuable advise with the talent, trade and experience that they have? It’s having the best of both worlds because they not only can support you financially and in when it comes to logistics of filming through their experience as producers, but creatively through the constant feedback I received from them.

Diego and Gael gave its best to the characters. It was an extremely pleasant process to see how out of nowhere they were suddenly there in flesh and bone, characters that had nothing in common with the actors. At the beginning, they were puzzled because Diego said that because of his nature, he was Cursi (Corny) and Gael felt the same way with Rudo (Rough), and I agreed with them; but that is exactly why I did not want to cast them like that, I wanted to make a film that went against their natural personality.

Guillermo Francella (“Batuta”) is the best-known and most famous comedian in Buenos Aires. To begin with, I was surprised by the fact that he wanted to participate in a casting process, and later on by his great humility when working. He fully grasped that I was not looking for Francella the comedian, but the actor and that is exactly what he delivered: a real Batuta that is credible from beginning to end. Working with Guillermo was a delectable experience.

The creative work is not what one imagines. At the beginning, you have an idea of what you want your work of art -book or film- to be; but in reality, you build upon it every day.

As I wrote and directed the film, I did have an image for certain things, but I had no concrete expectations because I was very much in the present tense of creation, there was nothing else for me.

To say that life is like football is almost commonplace. In life, you have penalties, corners, warnings… in a way it is a mirror of society, a microcosm of what happens in the world. In this case, soccer is a metaphor for life and life becomes a metaphor of the game.

What I tried to do, was a faithful portrait of Mexican society. For me, Rudo y Cursi (Tough and Corny) has a tone of realistic drama, more than a comedy, but what happens is that there is a lot of sense of humour.

Originally, I had conceived Rudo y Cursi (Tough and Corny) as a mockumentary about Tato, a player from humble origins that attains glory within professional soccer, but disappears mysteriously and becomes a legend. When I told Diego and Gael the story, they both wanted to play Tato, which was really cool. The problem was that there was only one character. That is when I realized that I wanted to work with both of them together again and I had to grow the story to two characters. The first thing that came to my mind was the image of two soccer players solving an intimate drama right before shooting a penalty in front of a full stadium. Then I thought, why not make them siblings, and I started constructing the story backwards.

In me, all creative process is chaotic; nothing comes in order. I put it in order as the ideas follow each other. It was very complicated to write the script, as complicated as the production itself. Writing is very difficult for me, so is directing. I enjoy it all the time, but both are difficult processes. I had to rewrite at very unusual -or strange- moments, during a very intense preproduction, because there was no other choice. It is a very different process when the story is discovered by the screenwriter then when the director discovers it. For the first one, it is almost a literary fact where he finds drama and coherence, for the later, it is closer to knowing how to carry it out.

I hope that honesty and authenticity are what bring people to the theatres. Beyond the cast, it is a unique concept that deals with a universal subject matter –brotherhood-, which we all have experienced one way or the other. Besides, the story is told within a very rich context: the banana plantation and coastal context, and the approach to the dark and bright sides of how professional soccer happens in this country (even though it is NOT a sports film).