When everything is for sale, what's the value of love? Jesus does make up for a troupe of drag performers in Havana, but dreams of being a performer. When he finally gets his chance to be on stage, a stranger emerges from the crowd and punches him in the face. The stranger is his father Angel, a former boxer, who has been absent from his life for 15 years. As father and son clash over their opposing expectations of each other, Viva becomes a love story as the men struggle to understand one another and become a family again.
It is impressive how well an Irish team captures the reality of poverty everywhere, that this story takes place in Cuba and involves transvestites is not relevant. You can place it anywhere in the world and it will resonate as loud.
I think there is nothing out of place here. The locations, the clothing, the atmosphere transport you to the daily struggle of the dispossessed. How much hope can these people have? No safe jobs, no income, no food; nothing to hold to, nothing to lose. Still, with all their shortcomings, they also show solidarity; apparently everyone is on his/her own, but in times of need there will always be someone to lend a hand. And this is what made me like the movie, the perfect portrait of this part of society. It is what I have seen through the years in my country; this could have happened in Mexico City, and the occupation of the characters be any other, the fact of the pulling together is always there.
Whoever talks about drag performances, lip-syncing, bad editing, missed the whole point of the movie and has no idea what real life in poor Latin America is like. This is a crash course on the subject. The lengths this young boy goes to survive are impressive; to him, being alive is enough, what it takes doesn't scare him: Been there, done that. And so everybody else: his hustler friend, the old drag, the young woman, even the father with what is left for him. Only strength can hold someone in such dire conditions.
This is one of the most moving films I have seen in my life and, as I said before, that it is Irish makes it even more valuable. If you are going to watch it, do it with an open heart, you will feel the soul of real people in an all too real and difficult world. Believe me, this is no fiction, this is the real life.
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