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Cassandro

Roger Ross Williams | 2023 | 99 MINS
USA
Follows the true story of Cassandro, the ''exotico'' character created by Saúl Armendáriz, gay amateur wrestler from El Paso who rose to international stardom.

In Detail

At once hypermasculine and flamboyant, Mexican lucha libre has for long been a popular form of entertainment for the masses. An escape from the burdens of poverty and real violence, the spectacle features brightly clad heroes known as técnicos who personify the forces of good. Their adversaries, the rudos, play easily recognizable bad guys one can also cheer for. Their duels inside the ring display as much artistry as they do physical prowess.

In this larger-than-life performance of testosterone-fueled fracas, of bodies flying through the air, choreographed uppercuts, and arranged victories; the emergence of gay wrestler Saúl Armendáriz (stage name: Cassandro) in the 1980s, came as a shockwave against homophobia. Deceptively delicate in appearance, reclaiming stereotypes with colorful defiance, but just as much a brawler with ample technique as the burliest of them. The film stars an irresistible Gael García Bernal as the real-life amateur luchador from in El Paso, Texas turned unexpected beacon of change. Seasoned documentarian Roger Ross Williams makes an assured transition into narrative features with this entertaining biopic, which doubles as a gorgeous depiction of mother-son love and an exhilarating exploration of fearless queer identity in a macho environment. An audience winner at Sundance.

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