Known as the “Liberace of Lucha Libre,” Saul Armendariz, aka Cassandro, is both fabulous and ferocious.
An openly gay champion of Mexican wrestling’s exotico subgenre, in which fighters dress in drag and put on an action-packed show filled with punches, pile-drivers and high camp, the 47-year-old luchador is winding down his long career with plenty of ice packs and memories of his triumphs in the ring.
In the lively documentary Cassandro the Exotico!, director Marie Losier (The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jay, [HIFF 2011]) chronicles the wrestler’s twilight years with affection, humor and gravitas, revealing a man who built his hard-knock success across several frontiers: the geographical one between the U.S. and Mexico; the sexual one by practicing a macho, and often brutal, entertainment sport while wearing lady’s spandex, makeup and wonderfully blown-out hair; and the physiological one by wavering between periods of sobriety and addiction as he deals with his substance abuse issues.
It’s a moving and sometimes amusing portrait of grit and glitter overcoming adversity – and one that was made entirely on 16mm film, with the Paris-based director experimenting with different frame rates and sound effects as she follows the wrestler in and out of the ring. […] Losier has an ethereal way of depicting Cassandro’s different exploits, jumping between reality and dreamlike sequences to reveal the many sides of a luchador whose life cannot be defined in simple terms.
Jordan Mintzer, The Hollywood Reporter