In a tale akin to Romeo and Juliet, the friendship between two children is threatened by their parents' differences. Malu is from an upper-class family and her single mother does not want ...
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In a tale akin to Romeo and Juliet, the friendship between two children is threatened by their parents' differences. Malu is from an upper-class family and her single mother does not want her to play with Jorgito, as she thinks his background coarse and commonplace. Jorgito's mother is a poor socialist that is proud of her family's social standing. She places similar restriction on her son. What neither woman recognizes is the immense strength of the bond between Malu and Jorgito. When the children learn that Malu's mother is planning to leave Cuba, they decide to travel to the other side of the island to find Malu's father and persuade him against signing the forms that would allow it.Written by
A tremendous work of heart that transcends borders, cultures and politics
By title, and by the knowledge of where this movie was produced, many who watch movies might be turned off, or suspect of the film's quality at best. The first Cuban film I've seen, I went in with expectations that were shattered by a, dare I say, cute and heartwarming tale of friendship and the human spirit. I know that people are people no matter where they live, and a liberal at heart. Even for me, this is the last place I would have expected to look for such a story, and one of the last things I would expect to result in a few tears.
Immediately, the story disarms us of political prejudice, with a scene of boys, including Jorgito, one of two protagonists, playing the Cuban version of Cowboys and Indians in the street. They happen upon a girl of the same age, Malu, and we see Jorgito and Malu having the first of their several arguments, those reminiscent of old married couples. Malu wants to play Queen of Spain to which Jorgito objects, setting up the dichotomous relationship we learn of with their families, and I would assume countless more in Cuba.
Jorgito's and Malu's relationship is shown developing throughout the first act, something between childish/flirty teasing and puppy love. Antagonism is introduced when Malu's mother plans to marry and leave the country, resulting in one of the most touching scenes in any movie, let alone one for children, with both children sitting on a roof overlooking Havana, discussing the situation. By the time we see Malu turning, unseen, to face Jorgito, borders are nonexistent. Friendship is the great equalizer. I was Jorgito and have always been.
The two run away and set out on a journey from Havana to southeast Cuba, to find Malu's father and prevent him from signing the paperwork that would allow Malu to leave Cuba. The scenes comparing/contrasting their lifestyles and routines in packing and in preparing "for school" that morning are the funniest part of the film, which isn't short on good laughs throughout.
The emotion invoked by "Viva Cuba" and the universality of feeling expressed in the dialog ("When I grow up I want to be in charge; to do what I want." and "If I were in charge I would let kids do what they want.") within the story's context is tactfully darling. In terms of story, "Viva Cuba" stands up to American children's films about friendship, such as "Up" and "Wall-E," even more true and raw from the protagonists' perspective (quite literally, as the camera angles are set low and we are presented with a few glimpses into their imaginations), as this film almost completely eschews the realities of the adult/real world until they come crashing (lightly) down at the ending with the friends' bond unaffected.
The movie takes you through Cuba, but does not make you feel like you or the characters are under an iron thumb or not free. It doesn't promote or glorify the country either. With a rare backdrop, it presents a personal struggle against confinements and misfortunes that are commonly experienced the world over.
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