‘Radical’ – Review (Sundance)

Eugenio Derbez gives a career-best performance as Radical is a heartfelt, emotional journey highlighting the importance of our teachers. Radical is based on a true story, follows a teacher in a Mexican border town full of neglect, corruption, and violence, as he tries a radical new method to unlock their students’ curiosity, potential – and maybe even their genius.

We meet Sergio, a school teacher with an uncharacteristic way of teaching his students things. How, you might wonder? Well, he allows these students to sit where they want and not follow any particular class schedule. Instead, these kids learn in a fun, unique way. Of course, this catches the director’s eye, who doesn’t seem fond of Sergio’s ways.

The film highlights the deep under-appreciation we have for our school teachers. Most of them go above and beyond their means for their students. So many teachers use their own money to ensure the school year goes off or students don’t go without. I loved seeing this transpire on the screen because it’s such an eye-opening experience.

Another profound thing you see throughout this film is how underprivileged communities see young kids having to be more than kids in their families. The small moments include seeing a little girl having to give three children baths or other kids having to deal drugs to stay afloat. It’s pretty impactful to see, and it’s great no one tried to Americanize this true story.

Mr. Eugenio Derbez has had my whole heart for a long time. More recently, in the incredible Apple TV+ series Acapulco, his portrayal of Sergio might be his best work. Nobody could have been better for this role. He has charisma and heart, but what stood out the most was his true passion for the role. You can see within every moment of this film how much playing the role of Sergio meant to him.

My small bone to pick with the movie is it meandered toward the end a little. However, thankfully, it doesn’t lose the steam that it has all movie to provide an emotional and impactful ending. I can’t describe my emotions on this journey from start to finish. I am an emotional wreck.

Overall, Radical is a heartwarming film filled with a rich story of the importance of teachers worldwide. It had the perfect blend of heart, emotion, and laughter that was highlighted by an outstanding performance by not just Derbez but the ensemble of kids. Be prepared to have the tissues ready for several moments in the film, including the ending.

Grade: A-

Oscar Prospects:
Likely: None
Should be Considered: Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay

Release Date: TBA
Where to Watch: TBA

Ricky Valero
Lives in Nashville
Favorite Director: Damien Chazelle
Sign: Aquarius

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