‘Cassandro (2023)’ is a biographical sports drama film starring Gael Garcia Bernal. After its world premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, it was also screened at the Telluride Film Festival. Directed by Roger Ross Williams, it follows the story of the ‘exotico’ luchador from El Paso, created by Saúl Armendáriz. The screenplay by Roger Ross Williams and David Teague paints a deeply moving portrait of this gay wrestler. He transforms the real-life Cassandro’s rise to international stardom into a soaring saga that makes it a heartwarming tearjerker. Gael’s charismatic performance adds to the film’s charm and leaves a lasting impression. Spoilers ahead. 

Cassandro (2023) Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis:

What is Cassandro on Prime Video about?

‘Cassandro’ by Roger Ross Williams is about a homosexual amateur wrestler – Cassandro, based on the life of a real-life luchador – Saúl Armendáriz. The film begins with Saul (Gael Garcia Bernal) working on his pipedream of becoming a renowned name in Mexican wrestling. He looked up to prominent professional wrestlers and wished to see himself in their place someday. At the time, his masked persona was El Topo. We see him lose a match against another wrestler.

The Realisation

After their match, an exotico wrestler – Big Beltrán, came up in the ring. He was introduced as someone that people love to hate. The crowd invited him with boos and homophobic slurs. Still, he flaunted his attire and got ready for his match. Saul looked at him with admiration. He returned home late at night to find his mother, Yocasta (Perla de la Rosa), asleep. Saul shaved his moustache. The next day, he joined his mother as she went to drop the clothes off to her clients. The maid at one of the houses insulted her and made her feel terrible for ending up with a son without marriage. Saul became her firm support among those who mock her.

The Hope

Back at the wrestling stadium, Saul met Sabrina (Roberta Colindrez), aka Lady Anarquia – an established trainer whom he held in high regard as many others. He conversed with her and asked for tips to beat his next opponent – Gigantico. She invited him into the ring to fight with her. In no time, he managed to beat her with a series of swift movements. She was mighty impressed by his skills and offered to train him without thinking about the pay. Slowly and steadily, he practiced to reach her potential. During that time, she suggested he should not put on any persona that does not suit him. Instead, why not be an exotico? She asked. He refused that idea since, according to tradition, exoticos never win.

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The Acceptance

While at a diner with his mother, Saul saw Gerardo (Raúl Castillo) walk past with his wife and kids. In earlier scenes around the boxing set-up, we see Saul and Gerardo eyeing each other but hiding their true emotions from the others. Yocasta sensed something in Saul’s body language and went up to speak with Gerardo.

Meanwhile, Saul stayed back, watching an episode of the telenovela – Kassandra. Later at night, they passed by a baseball stadium. She noticed Saul’s father – Eduardo, playing and admired him. However, Saul did not wish to limit himself to his father’s expectations. Instead, he saw an exotico fighting in a ring and decided to work on his outfit. He also thought of Veronica Castro as someone good at doing her eyebrows. In short, he tried to borrow inspiration from any place he could find.

Later, Saul showed his exotico outfit drawing to Sabrina and conveyed his willingness to fight in it. So, she asked the organizer to let Saul enter as an exotico luchador. But she mentioned – ‘this time, the exotico won’t lose.’ Eventually, Saul entered the ring as flamboyant Cassandro and rocked an outfit he made with his mother’s dress. While everyone invited him with boos and slurs, he gave a tough fight to his opponent with utmost grace and pizzazz. He flaunted his campiness and still managed to impress the crowd.

The Career

Cassandro (2023) Movie Ending & True Story Explained
Gael García Bernal in Cassandro (2023)

After the match, Sabrina introduced Saul to Lorenzo (Joaquín Cosío) at a bar. Lorenzo admired Saul’s skill and wished to be his promoter. He got Felipe (Bad Bunny) to entertain Saul’s needs and interests. That time, Saul spoke about his unmasked persona with utmost confidence. But, back home, his mother worried that he would get teased like a family friend did. Nevertheless, Yocasta joined Sabrina outside the boxing ring at his next match to cheer for Saul. That day, Cassandro ended up winning over his opponents and changing the game for the better. The crowd saw an exotico win, and Cassandro soaked in their cheers.

The Homophobia

In his personal life, Saul had a sexual relationship with Gerardo. But they kept it hidden because of Gerardo’s request. Saul himself had struggles in getting accepted for his sexuality. When he came out to his parents, his father stopped seeing him and Yocasta due to his religious beliefs. Saul felt bad for his mother, who fell in love with a married man but never received the acceptance she deserved. He hoped to make her future better. That’s why he kept fighting as Cassandro and earned a living to provide Yocasta with all the joy she should have received from Eduardo.

Cassandro (2023) Movie Ending Explained:

The Romance

Saul received an opportunity to fight against El Hijo del Santo (The Son of the Saint), who is a legend in Mexican professional wrestling. He felt blessed that The Son of Santo himself asked to make this happen. Saul saw it as a way to buy a house for his mother. He also thought he could finally be with Gerardo in public. Unfortunately, Gerardo did not share Saul’s wishes. Instead, he hoped to watch Saul from a distance, achieving glory and success. Gerardo did not appreciate that Saul tried to push their relationship beyond sexual desires.

The Personal and the Professional

His mother died before Saul could fight, probably the biggest match of his life. He drank his sorrows and felt bad that he could not make his mother happy as he wanted. At his vulnerable moments, Sabrina stood by him firmly in support. Finally, the day of Cassandro’s match against The Son of the Saint arrived. While fighting this masked legend, Cassandro zoned out for a moment and ended up hurting the man’s arm. Cassandro stepped out of the ring and stood over the sidebar of a floor. Suddenly, he decided to jump down. But he did not hurt himself. The crowd brought him back to the ring with open arms.

Among the cheers by the audience, Cassandro returned to the ring. Even though he did not win the match, he received a standing ovation from the crowd. Even El Hijo del Santo carried him on his shoulders while everyone was screaming. By doing this, Saul defied his father’s homophobic views, who mocked an exotico wrestler whenever they used to enter a boxing ring. Though he won over the crowd, he could not get closer to Gerardo. Despite Saul’s gigantic success, Gerardo refused to get close to him. On the other hand, we see how people praised Cassandro to his face and insulted him behind his back.

The Triumph

Despite all the trolls, Saul got interviewed by El Hijo del Santo on television. During this broadcast, a gay teen expressed how Cassandro’s existence helped to make his father accept him. It brought tears to Saul’s eyes. He understood the larger impact he had on the culture. Even though his father eventually met him, he still held on to his homophobic beliefs. But by then, Saul had gained enough confidence to stand up for himself against his antiquated beliefs. In the final shots of Cassandro, we see the legendary exotico walk up to the ring among a cheering crowd. He looks back at a young teen who cannot control his excitement seeing Cassandro.

Cassandro (2023) True Story Explained:

Is Cassandro on Prime Video based on a true story?

Yes. Cassandro is based on a true story of the ‘Liberace of Lucha Libre’ – Saúl Armendáriz. Through his character ‘Cassandro,’ this wrestler from El Paso, Texas, received global recognition for his magnificent skills. Traditionally, exotico wrestlers, aka luchadors who fight in drag, are reduced to their silly campiness and are never taken seriously. They are teased, booed, and meant to lose in their match. Cassandro became an important figure in changing that image and in the movement of queer liberation.

Read More: Cassandro (2023) Prime Video Movie Review: A Gael Garcia Bernal Spectacle Through and Through

Trailer:

Cassandro (2023) Movie Links: IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Wikipedia, Letterboxd
Cassandro (2023) Movie Cast: Gael García Bernal, Roberta Colindrez, Perla De La Rosa, Joaquín Cosío, Raúl Castillo, El Hijo del Santo, Bad Bunny
Cassandro (2023) Movie Genre: Drama/Biography, Runtime: 1h 47m
Where to watch Cassandro

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