An almost wordless portrait of modern-day Havana with sublime music. The camera follows ten Havana citizens through one day. The chosen subjects are ordinary folks: an old peanut vendor with a bed-ridden husband at home; a hospital laundry worker who performs in a drag show by night; a sad-eyed medic who moonlights as a clown (the only spoken words in the film are the clown's manic spiel at a children's birthday party); a young man who slogs as a menial worker, then when night falls, dazzles as one of the principal dancers in a ballet performance; a widowed factory worker who lovingly tends his Down's syndrome-afflicted son; a railway employee who morphs into a jazz saxophonist by night. The failure of the Communist experiment in Cuba has marked each of these people, yet they find, to a degree, salvation in art, and in loving somebody. While the aged peanut vendor roasts the nuts that she will sell the following day, the camera moves to the walls behind her. On one crumbling wall, is a yellowed photograph of her and her husband on their wedding day, beaming with youthful energy and optimism. The factory worker and his son are the poorest of the lot; when their day is done, they climb up on the roof of their tenement building and gaze at the full moon with an appreciation that is truly humbling. The most mundane details of what comprises life are observed with the most exquisite thoroughness: a child joyfully rushing into the arms of a parent at day's end; a performer applying his make-up with an almost religious concentration; the effort, in empty night-darkened streets, of wangling a ride to a performance. I was moved to tears by this haunting empathetic examination of the human condition, by the ability to love despite having nothing left to give, and the restorative powers of Art.
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