Wrestling with homophobia: Gael Garcia Bernal is a force in Amazon Prime’s ‘Cassandro’

Cassandro tells the real-life story of Mexican “exotico” and openly gay wrestler Cassandro, with Gael Garcia Bernal going all out in the central role.

Bernal bounces around in the ring very much like the real-life wrestler—he performs most of his own wrestling stunts—with the masterful flips, twists and dances that make Cassandro such a unique and powerful presence in the ring. Yeah, most of this stuff is staged, but this guy really does put on a great show. (You can see the real person in the 2018 documentary Cassandro, The Exotico!) Bernal does the guy proud.

The story itself is a well-done origin story about how Cassandro grew up in El Paso, but spent a lot of time in Juarez, Mexico, where he competed in many of his first bouts. There’s a nice depiction of his relationship with his mom (Perla De La Rosa) and the homophobic adversity he faced on his rise to fame.

When the story ends, much of the turmoil in Cassandro’s life (including a problematic relationship with his dad and drug usage) are still raging. A viewing of the documentary afterward reveals Cassandro got clean and made up with his pops.

The main reason to watch the movie is to see Bernal own his time in the ring. He must’ve broken a few ribs making this movie, because the guy isn’t playing. He’s doing some real moves, hitting the canvas hard and doing some stellar flips. I seriously think he could take up a secondary career in the ring due to his athleticism and showmanship.

The story is good, and the Bernal performance is nothing short of great. The documentary actually served like a sort of sequel, so I feel like I got the whole Cassandro story with the two films, and it’s a fascinating story indeed.

Cassandro is now streaming on Amazon Prime.

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