‘Radical’ is the Mexican Showcase Celebration Film at NBFF – Review

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Eugenio Derbez’s new film ‘Radical‘ is the Mexican Showcase Celebration Spotlight Film at Newport Beach Film Festival (NBFF).

Eugenio Derbez’s new film ‘Radical‘ is in the tradition of films such as ‘Stand and Deliver‘ and ‘Lean on Me‘, where educators help their students in hopeless situations find purpose in life through education.

The difference between ‘Radical‘ and the other two mentioned is that Derbez’s film takes place at an elementary school, where the children know nothing beyond living in a cartel run warzone. The other thing…Sergio Juarez (Derbez) is not a put together leader, but someone who is just as lost as the students at his new assignment.

Through everything, the children think Sergio is nuts, his colleagues have waved the white flag in surrender with the high elementary school rate and the incentive program to boost test scores are not a huge motivator. However his unorthodox theatrics get everyone to rethink their lot in life and begin valuing education.

Radical‘ was the perfect selection for the Newport Beach Film Festival Mexican Showcase Spotlight as Derbez gives yet another incredible performance filled with humor, passion and earnestness to education the next generation of students before they lost to a hopeless world in a part of Mexico that even the government has forgotten.

Director Christopher Zalla’s depictions of the dilapidated city and the mess the children go through, yet continues to have humor and heart throughout the picture, with its beautiful cinematography reminds me of Ziad Doueiri’s 1998 film, ‘West Beirut‘, where three childhood friends, two Muslim and one Christian navigate life during the 1975, Lebanese Civil War.

The troubles these children face, the lives they lead where crime is the only thing that pays and a teacher who does nothing but kick hornets nests, maybe an old story but the need for this kind of hope for the next generation to want to learn and better their lives is a tale we have been repeating since the ancient Mesopotamians.

Radical‘ is an incredible film that needs to be watched, if not for the story but for the performances of Derbez and his counterpart Daniel Haddad who plays the Principal Chucho, a man who tries to keep the status quo, but still secretly has desire to help his students. it appears that Principle Chucho became a cynic because had his heart broken repeatedly by his local  community. Both actors make me believe that they truly care able the children’s education.

If only real education was like this instead of teaching to the test, only then would we have a world if life long learners instead of adults stunted at either 18 or 22, depending on if they went on to college.

Official Synopsis:

Who will the sixth grade students at Jose Urbina Lopez Elementary in Matamoros become? They are among the worst performing students in Mexico, the world they know is one of violence and hardship, and their classrooms are dominated by an atmosphere of overbearing discipline, not possibility. It might seem like a dead end… but it is also the perfect place for new teacher Sergio Juarez to try something different. There’s just one problem: Sergio (played by an amazing Eugenio Derbez) has no idea what he’s doing.

Christopher Zalla returns to Sundance (Padre Nuestro, U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize 2007) with this honest, playful, powerfully inspiring story about a teacher who takes a radical approach with overlooked, apathetic kids to trigger their curiosity and discover the joy of learning… to let kids — who live in a world where they can’t be kids — become kids again. Based on true events, Radical shines a light on the incredible potential children can manifest when an innovative teacher empowers them to think for themselves.

‘Radical‘ releases in theaters on Friday, November 3, 2023.



Radical‘ is one of Eugenio Derbez’s more riveting performances, no matter what language he uses.

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