Cassandro – A Review from a Wrestling Fan

Cassandro - Movie

A queer biopic about the legendary queer luchador.

Something hard to hide from those who know me personally is that pro wrestling is my other passion in addition to films. As I write this review, I am watching AEW. It’s Wednesday night, I got off work late, and it’s a fitting environment for the movie reviewed in this article. That is the biopic starring Gael Garcia Bernal, Cassandro. 

The film chronicles the life of Mexican-American gay pro wrestler Saúl Armendáriz, who created the mythic exotico character Cassandro, the Liberace of Lucha Libre. It’s important to note that before Cassandro, the so-called exoticos in the Mexican lucha libre scene were no more than an attraction to get heat (crowd’s hate in wrestling jargon). They would usually work as rudo (the bad guy in Spanish) and lose to the luchador técnico (the good guy). As anyone reading this would expect, that protocol was fueled by society’s homophobic preconceptions. 

Then comes this movie’s title hero. Saúl was an openly gay man, close to his mother, who loves pro wrestling and decides to change the course of exotico wrestlers by winning over the typical wrestler. His problems with substances, his close relationship with his mother, and his affair with a married professional wrestler are all depicted in the movie. It’s all meticulously portrayed in the most realistic way possible with El Hijo Del Santo acting as himself, nice needle drops truth to the times, and a supporting cast of talented people, including Bad Bunny as a sexy drug dealer. This film doesn’t hold back on the character’s sexuality, and things get steamy. 

Bad Bunny kills it as a kind of flamboyant drug dealer.

If you’re familiar with Gael Garcia Bernal, you know he’s not afraid of steamy characters. As always, he plays his characters with bravura. The wrestling, the sex, the drug use, the agony, he looks natural in everything he does as the groundbreaking pro wrestler. Though Garcia Bernal deserves all the credit he gets, this couldn’t have been possible without Roger Ross Williams’s direction. 

Over the past two decades, he has been a documentary filmmaker who has won an Academy Award (Oscar) with his short film “Music by Prudence.”. It comes as no surprise that his first scripted feature would be an extraordinary biopic with character depth and as close to the real story as possible. There’s a scene that I truly loved as a wrestling fan. I believe director Roger Ross Williams understands the psychology behind the predetermined sport.

Now more than ever, the world of pro wrestling has been more inclusive. Although there are still problems with diversity in the two mainstream companies, more LGBTQ+ people are being accepted in the scene. Most importantly, they are being treated as more than just an attraction to boo them out of the building. Fans who support the diversification of professional wrestling should thank Cassandro. And this film about his life gives him justice.  

Check how the film gives him justice on Amazon

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