With the world sometimes seeming to fall apart by nearly every measure, is there any reason left to hope? A new movie argues yes. Inspired by the 2013 Wired article “,” which explored the success of some innovative teaching methods in an impoverished Mexican community, the shaggy classroom drama “Radical” finds a glimmer of optimism by looking to our children — as long as we know how to teach them.
Among the kids trying to get by in this rough world is Paloma (Jennifer Trejo), a smart but shy girl whom we meet scavenging in the town dump near where she lives with her father. When Paloma finds a mirror, she seems to ask, “Who am I?” Nico (Danilo Guardiola Escobar), on the other hand, is the class clown, but that’s not the problem: He’s already started running contraband for the local cartel, and once you’re in, it’s hard to get out.
Derbez’s portrayal of Sergio, though based on a real person, Sergio Juárez Correa, is derived from a long line of similarly inspirational movie educators, from Sidney Poitier’s Mark Thackeray in “To Sir, With Love” to Robin Williams’s John Keating in “Dead Poets Society.” Sergio’s methods are similarly unconventional. headtopics.com
Like Sergio’s unusual modus operandi, “Radical” takes some time to click, its first half as unstructured as Sergio’s classroom. But at about the halfway point, when the kids discover the excitement of learning, it becomes as thrilling as any blockbuster.
Needless to say, Sergio will run into obstacles, and his story arc is predictable and a bit manipulative. But it’s still affecting. Although the character of Paloma is based on an actual child prodigy, other student characters are composites, so the dynamic between her and Nico feels like a screenwriter’s construct. Even though we can see how the pieces come together, it’s hard not to get caught up in the spirit of excitement. headtopics.com