Out from prison in Ceuta, Abdul is going to buy a steamship in order to reach his friends, Maqroll and the fair Ilona, and to start back, in a sort of sentimental triangle, the adventurous ...
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This Oscar nominated film is the story of two men who are opposites, one gay, the other straight, one a fierce communist, the other a fierce individualist, one suspicious, the other accepting, and how they come to love each other.
Tomás Gutiérrez Alea,
Juan Carlos Tabío
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Daniel Giménez Cacho,
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Margarita Rosa de Francisco,
Out from prison in Ceuta, Abdul is going to buy a steamship in order to reach his friends, Maqroll and the fair Ilona, and to start back, in a sort of sentimental triangle, the adventurous and fascinating life they were used to. Meanwhile, after travelling separately around the world, Maqroll and Ilona meet casually in Panama and decide to open a joyous airplane-like brothel, to get the money necessary to Abdul to carry out his plan. But a mysterious woman, Larissa, psychologically insane, starting a rather morbid friendship with Ilona, would upset the plan, thus provoking the tragedy. Written by
Luisa Bertolini <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Surprisingly better than a priori would have seemed
Not much was expected from this film, judging from previous examples from Sergio Cabrera (such as `Severo Ochoa' TV-mini, qv), such that the resulting treatment of a surprisingly original story was quite satisfying in a way. Or at least mildly entertaining with some really good moments. The ingredients almost seem to be from a novel by Arturo Pérez-Reverte but is in fact from an unknown (for me) Álvaro Mutis: three friends decide to do anything and everything to get the money to buy a tramp-steamer; one is a Lebanese in a Ceutí prison (Ceuta is a Spanish enclave in North Africa), one is a sailor on a bankrupt ship who ends up being paid off with a priceless jewel of the captain's wife, and the girl of the film is bent on setting up brothels anywhere between Panamá, Stockholm and Singapore or South Africa from whence she is thrown out for shouting out against the apartheid régime. With moments bordering on fantasies, as well as the continuous flash-backs and changes from Abdul in one place, Margarita in another and everyone else anywhere else or in between, the film is guaranteed to keep you awake at least, and probably fascinated with where all this will end up.
Nicely photographed in such attractive places La Habana and Cartagena de las Indias among others the film might seem to be classified as a comedy if you do not take care of the more serious aspects, tragicomedy if you get bound up with the ending, or even a parabole if you get lost around the middle, but anyway cannot be classified as any of the three.
The main actors, pretty good even Imanol Arias as an Arab-looking type comes out very well, considering and as for the girls, well, you have some steamy sex scenes to keep all kinds of appetites whetted, though Sr. Arias misses out as he is too bent on pulling off the wangled deal to land a tramp-steamer owned by Sr. Stavropoulous, who played his part excellently, as also did Sain Castro in the part of Sr. Peñalosa.
The original music was nothing of the kind as Luis Bacalov had the theme from `Un Homme et Une Femme' running through his head most of the time, `The Lark Ascending' by Ralph Vaughan-Williams some of the time, and there was just a moment that suggested a fragment of the very well-known `Bacchiana Brasileira' by Héctor Villa-Lobos.
I would give this film a bit above a 6 on any scale from 0 to 10 purely on its entertainment value.
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