I’m really a desparate romantic at heart. The cheesiest cliched film moments, done right, will get me, every time. Desperado was one long bunch of formulaic cheesy moments, filmed on the tightest of tight budgets. But not nearly as tight a budget as El Mariachi, when Robert Rodriquez checked himself into a research hospital and used the money they paid him from that to film El Mariachi – scenes in that movie were done in one take, because he couldn’t afford the film for second or third passes. But…it’s not a bad movie, despite the budget. It got a fair amount of attention at the Cannes Film Festival, which got Robert Rodriquez the financial backing he needed to film Desperado.
He was smart. He wrote and filmed Desparado in English, making it accessible for a bigger English-speaking audience.
And (sigh), perhaps the smartest move he made – he got the relatively unknown actor at the time, Antonio Banderas, to play the lead.
Desperado is chock full of “moments.” And blood. It’s a Mexican gangster movie, so if you’ve never seen it, be warned. It’s brutal, crude and at times it’s laugh out loud funny. It’s also one of my favourite movies of all times, not just because it’s got a romance at the heart of it. It’s also a magic lesson in the art of story-telling and myth-making.
This is my second hats-off to Desparado. Last time, I bowed to the movie in general.
As usual, there’s spoilers – I can’t talk about the moment without laying a few spoilers down.
The hero, El Mariachi, and heroine, Carolina, have escaped the burning building onto the rooftop next door (I told you it was full of cliches) and are staring down at the bad guy, Bucho, who stands in front of the burning building, incensed that they’ve got away.
Carolina is distraught because her life’s savings have been destroyed in the blaze. But the hero is dealing with his own shock: The bad guy is his long lost big brother, and he can’t shoot him. He puts his gun away while Carolina rails at him to shoot Bucho before he gets away. She tells him she just lost all her money. Does he tell her the truth, that this is his brother? No.
But you can see him put it together in that one moment: How this changes everything. Not just his brother, but also Carolina. The whole pattern just shifted. Where she was just a woman he bedded before, now she is a commitment. The bad guy is now family…and a mortal enemy.
So he reaches out and takes her hand and leads her away.
It’s such a great moment!