It is a satire about life in Cuba. The members of a funeral procession and some truckdrivers who have to take the same route begin to talk about god and the world ending up in discovering ... See full summary »
It is a satire about life in Cuba. The members of a funeral procession and some truckdrivers who have to take the same route begin to talk about god and the world ending up in discovering that life for both groups has many similarities as well as a lot of differences depending on the point of view. Written by
Guantanamera, a Cuban light drama by accomplished director Tomas Gutierrez Alea (1928-1996), is a tropical road movie. The setting is the 1990s, following withdrawal of USSR support for its little-brother Communist regime. A woman dies, some distance removed from Havana, and the goal is to transport her to the capital for burial. A tiny entourage of family accompanies the hearse.
Some snippets, though not central to the plot: How do government-run funeral homes work exactly, in a Communist country? Well, first, there is a per-person quota of refreshments for the bereaved and acquaintances who are paying last respects. But doesn't this attract inauthentic freeloaders? Second, there is a scene involving a meeting of regional mortuary-manager bureaucrats. If travel expenses for hearse trips are allocated according to the relative mileage of the territories through which vehicles traipse, the funeral home functionary in a crossroads region takes more than her share of budgetary hits. Is that fair? Third, there is the question of why the burial in Havana in the first place. If everybody and everywhere in Cuba are socialistically equal, what's wrong with the deceased staying put where she was? Meanwhile, we also have organized hitchhiking. Officials have the power to commandeer vacant seats from those who have for those who need.
There is some Latino romance, and some lightly subversive free enterprise. All in all, a likable movie. Mirta Ibarra, who starred twelve years earlier in Alea's 1983 film, Up To a Certain Point, gets an encore. She plays the niece of the deceased, who is also the wife of the over-serious Daniel Ortega-looking official who's in charge of the expedition.
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