Gustavo is a young Havana Communist who believes in the revolution; he hopes for a scholarship to study aeronautical engineering in Prague. But his faith in the new Cuba is tested: his ...
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Gustavo is a young Havana Communist who believes in the revolution; he hopes for a scholarship to study aeronautical engineering in Prague. But his faith in the new Cuba is tested: his father, a psychiatrist, can make four times as much playing piano at a hotel for foreigners; his sweetheart, Yolanda, wants a career as a dancer and longs for the riches of Miami; his younger brother Bobby simply wants to play rock music, and as a result is in constant trouble with the authorities. When Bobby takes a shocking step of revolt and Gustavo is refused service at a foreigners-only bar, the contradictions in his resolve to become a "new man" push him to the breaking point.Written by
This film sets out to be nothing more than a crass criticism of Cuba's Communist state, with the plot strung along by a tepid and saccharine romance. There's really no artistic vision here - most of the direction is trying to be "classic", but then you get "heady" bursts of realism with some wobbly camera-work during a protest march. The soundtrack's not bad, some of the acting's pretty good, but everything in the film is designed to be easy to watch, and keep you just engaged enough so you can learn about how terrible Castro is.
And this criticism isn't to deny that the regime has its problems. I can't claim any direct knowledge of Cuba, but I am aware of the oppression, and the poverty. But this film doesn't want to explore any of these issues. Why is Cuba prostituting itself (literally) to foreign capital? Well the American embargo would have had its crushing effects on Cuba's economy long before if it hadn't been for the Soviet subsidy. It *is* far more damaging, if you're going to have a tourist industry, to have an apartheid system in an attempt to stop the tourist economy "polluting" your political system, but what drove Cuba to its reliance on tourism in the first place? And what really gets me about this film is they're clearly looking to America for liberation. Did everyone forget that America propped up Batista, under which the Cubans were not only unfree but starving? Oh yeah, the USA's got a great track record of bringing freedom to Latin America - Pinochet in Chile, the contras in Nicaragua. And even its liberation of Panama came after propping up the vicious dictatorship of Torrijos then Noriega for 30-odd years. And what does it say about America that impoverished Cuba has higher literacy rates and comparable life expectancy? Cubans enjoy health care which the 40 million impoverished Americans who can't afford health insurance can only dream of.
The film addressed none of these issues, and it's not that I mind a film taking a position, how can it not? But give your viewer some credit, don't just expect them to swallow it whole. Just showing particularly extreme manifestations of protest doesn't automatically win your case. This is a Miami-Cuban's caricature of modern Cuba, scribbled in 5 minutes. You think for the effort they've put in it could be something more substantial.
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