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A sport as often described as virile as it is violent, wrestling is nevertheless the passion of Cassandro, a 50-year-old Mexican, gay and transvestite who has been three times world champion. A portrait by Marie Losier.
Presented in the ACID selection of the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, CASSANDRO, THE EXOTICO draw the portrait of Cassandro, an essential star of the Lucha Libre, Mexican wrestling. The director Marie Losier follows the athlete at a pivotal moment in his career as his fragmented body after 26 years in the ring seems to announce the show is over. But nothing seems to be able to prevent Cassandro to move away from the spotlight, especially since he is the king of Exoticos, a group of transvestite Mexican wrestlers.
CASSANDRO, THE EXOTICO do not fall into a pathos weighing when the athlete talks about his addictions, his therapies or his injuries. On the contrary, the documentary takes a joyful look at the extravagant personality of the 50-year-old sportsman who climbs on rings with trains of several meters inspired by Lady Di accompanied by Gloria Gaynor. Cassandro is therefore eccentric but also deeply spiritual. He’s a wrestler but he’s also gay. One does not prevent the other and despite what it could seem to be contradictions, he remains true to himself and imposes himself in a sport where he was not welcome. Thus, the documentary addresses not only the future of the athlete but also his past as he leads the director in the footsteps of his youth.
“My body tells me it’s time, but my ego isn’t telling me yet.”
Cassandro, referring to his retirement.
Today victorious of all he has accomplished, Cassandro leads the director to Ciudad Juarez, the city in which he started the fight. In this city on the border of the United States, wrestling is a religion to which men scrupulously devote themselves on Sundays after Church. So it’s to let off steam and forget everything that Cassandro had embarked on this sporting career. But 26 years later, after more than four operations, eight head injuries and splints constantly present on his wrists, the wrestler is not yet ready to retire. In front of the camera of Marie Losier, he cries at the idea of stopping his career but also at the idea of ending up in a wheelchair. For this man who has dedicated his existence to the sport that saved his life, it is difficult to make a decision.
But unfortunately, the portrait drawn by Marie Losier is disappointing. With its 16-millimeter film and asynchronous sound, CASSANDRO, THE EXOTICO offers a rather superficial presentation of the athlete. The short and disjointed sequences prevent him from confiding in the camera and the viewer. Many events are thus passed over in silence. In 1991, the reactions of wrestling fans to the participation of Cassandro at the world championship had pushed the latter to attempt suicide. Previously, the athlete had also been trained by Rey misterio, one of the most famous wrestlers in the world. Yet the film doesn’t even allude to it. Thus, the lack of light regarding the history of Cassandro gives the impression of having met him but not really knowing who he really is. In the end, the viewer comes out disillusioned after seeing what ultimately seemed to be just a trailer. vintage.
Despite its production flaws, CASSANDRO, THE EXOTICO offers an interesting vision of wrestling through the figure of Cassandro. Marie Losier does not offer a documentary on a gay man who imposes himself in the virilist world of wrestling. It offers a feature film, fascinating although superficial, about a fifty-year-old athlete who must reinvent himself after having devoted his entire life to his career. Except that Cassandro did not reinvent itself for wrestling. It is wrestling that has changed for him as evidenced by the new diversity of this sport (women, dwarves, transgender…). Hoping that the world continues to reinvent itself so that it can stay the same.
• Original title : Cassandro: The Exotico!
• Production : Marie Loisier
• Actors: Cassandro
• Release date : December 5, 2018
• Duration: 73 minutes