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Joshua Davis, an author for Wired magazine as at 2013, published an article that identified a Mexican boy as the future “Steve Jobs.” Ten years later, Radical revisits that seminal moment. This movie introduces Paloma as the student and Jennifer Trejo plays her in the new film by Christopher Zalla. Let’s call it now — we’ll be seeing this talented young actress in a lot of Hollywood movies. But she also shares screen time nicely with veteran actor Eugenio Derbez (CODA) in Radical.

In a crime-ridden Mexican border town plagued by violence and other social problems, Derbez’s character Sergio employs his unique educational method to make instruction more interesting for young learners. Watch how Sergio does it to inspire Paloma and other bright minds around her engagingly throughout this great film.

Radical is set back to 2011 – it’s hardly conceivable that that was over twelve years ago – in Matamoros, Mexico. The new teacher at the town elementary school is Sergio (Derbez), who came here after going through an “existential crisis” at his last place of work — he just glows with hope especially amidst some pessimistic colleagues sitting with him in the other classrooms. “We’re going to do amazing things here every day,” these are some of the thought-provoking words which Sergio shares with his students daily even if there are gunshots and explosions being heard from across this fierce border city streets.

At first you might think to yourself, “this can’t last long” when referring to Sergio’s unyielding optimism since these kids aren’t exactly angels. When Nico (Danilo Guardiola), the class joker makes everybody laugh one day however you don’t expect him to take him aside so late and say gently, “Don’t ever change.” These are moments like this when tears come up your eyes making Radical a resounding success.

All is not rosy though. We are shown what Sergio’s students do when in their own homes, especially Paloma who wants to work as an aerospace engineer and go into space but returns to her humble home where she reads magazines about better opportunities elsewhere. Consequently, Nico has been designated to carry illegal goods on his back pack as he reports to school every morning. There is also Lupita (Mia Fernanda Solis), whose mother says that she will not be going back to school next year because she must take care of her younger siblings.

Sergio continues for the computer lab that his new school was promised – The reason why he accepted the job – but it never arrives. “Nothing has changed after 100 years of education,” he tells his boss in a fit of frustration at some point. Furthermore, his colleagues keep pushing him around by constantly reminding him the importance of ENLACE test and saying ‘the children must be taught discipline.’ All the same, Sergio isn’t bothered and accepts interactive learning encouraging kids in understanding how floating works among other things. Even pudgy principal Chucho (Daniel Haddad, excellent) gets involved despite originally dismissing it. Another outstanding moment from Radical comes with the Sergio-Chucho bromance…and so on…

However, even in these hard-hitting scenes of witnessing underprivileged young kids’ suffering from their backgrounds beyond their control, there is always hope. Consequently, we are happy for Paloma for her brilliance in mathematics which enabled her save her father to be paid his owed wages by the construction worker who had refused to do it on purpose or accidentally. While at school one day, Sergio notices that Nico has some contraband with him but decides to overlook this and give him another chance. As a result of the failure of a lab grant, he traded his only means of transportation – a car – so as to buy a computer that could be used by the institution. In all these cases, we see new possibilities for education; this suggests there may be other educators like Sergio all over Mexico, America and elsewhere.

As it advances into the story, the border town setting in the film will also continue to bring sobs of joy as well as tears of sorrow. At one point Paloma’s dad tells off Sergio for having false hopes for future leaders who are expected to change things around them eventually. Another student encounters gang violence that will make you squint your eyes and wish for better days ahead. The scary boss of Principal Chucho even visited the school once and tried closing down Sergio’s non-traditional method of teaching but then here comes salvation from its own victims once again as they keep taking turns standing up just enough long enough to display limitless knowledge in rapid succession until they have made everyone aware that they know everything. Have I mentioned “tears of joy” before?

But sometimes it is not enough though and eventually Sergio gets expelled from school making both his students and viewers cry out loud while watching the movie. He still does not want back after being reinstated because he feels useless around students who can never learn anything through him regardless what happens otherwise. This was captured by director Christopher Zalla during those intense moments using raw hand-held cinematography that film geeks will love. If you have read the Wired magazine article that inspired this movie, you know what I mean.

“Isn’t everything impossible until it’s done?” he asks at one point in a rhetorical manner. Dead Poets Society, Half Nelson and other much-loved films about education can recommend Radical to their fans immediately. Moreover, Derbez’s CODA recently received the Best Picture trophy at the Oscars; hence Radical too should win many accolades this season.

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