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Return to Ithaca (2014)

Retour à Ithaque (original title)
1:40 | Trailer
Sun is setting on Havana. Five friends are gathered to celebrate the return of Amadeo after 16 years of exile in Madrid.


Laurent Cantet


Laurent Cantet (screenplay), François Crozade (adaptation) | 2 more credits »
3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »





Cast overview:
Jorge Perugorría ... Eddy
Isabel Santos Isabel Santos ... Tanía
Néstor Jiménez Néstor Jiménez ... Amadeo
Fernando Hechavarria Fernando Hechavarria ... Rafa
Pedro Julio Díaz Ferran Pedro Julio Díaz Ferran ... Aldo
Carmen Solar Carmen Solar ... Fela
Rone Luis Reinoso Rone Luis Reinoso ... Yeonis
Andrea Doimeadiós Andrea Doimeadiós ... Leidianna (as Andrea Doimeadios)
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Amadeo, a novelist suffering from writer's block, is back in Havana after sixteen years of exile. This evening his friends are waiting for him on a terrace overlooking the Malecon Boulevard. There are Tania, who despite being an eye doctor only ekes out a living; Rafa, a once major artist who has become an alcoholic and only paints daubs now ; Aldo, an honest man who, although trained as an engineer is reduced to mounting batteries in a factory. They are joined after a time by Eddy, a literature lover turned parvenu... From dusk to dawn, they will laugh, sing, dance together, reminisce about their youth, the group they used to form, the faith they had in the future and exchange about their present disillusionment. At times they will even tear each other apart... Written by Guy Bellinger

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User Reviews

A must-see about Cuba!
7 July 2016 | by VikingbyheartSee all my reviews

Cuba is a country that has always aroused much curiosity and interest of the people, either for its spectacular beaches or its culture and very peculiar history. Located in the Caribbean Sea, in the half of the twentieth century, the island undergone a revolution that would change the direction of Latin America, establishing and living the socialist regime since then. Thus, nothing more natural than the desire to know a little of the reality of the cubans. And this is exactly what the film Retour à Ithaque (in the original) or Return to Ithaca (in English) does: provides us with an understanding of the state of mind of the local population. The director is the french Laurent Cantet, known by its renowned Entre les Murs (The Class - 2008).

The story is set on the terrace of a building on the seafront in Havana, where five friends from youth, Rafa (Fernando Hechevarria), Tania (Isabel Santos), Aldo (Pedro Julio Diaz Ferran) and Eddy (Jorge Perugorría), now in their middle-age, come together to celebrate the return of Amadeo (Néstor Jiménez), who has lived in Spain for 16 years. His return awakens many dormant feelings in the group: lost loves, longings, frustrations, guilt and confrontations. In this period of less than 24 hours between the early afternoon and dawn of the next day, their destinations, the challenges of the past and present come to light.

The economic embargo imposed by the US government against Cuba brought grave consequences to the Caribbean country. The hardest period that the island known was the post-fall of the Berlin Wall, in the 1990s, with the end of the Soviet Union. The dissolution of Cuba's main trading partner caused a serious crisis in the cuban model, greatly impacting the lives of its inhabitants. During that time the protagonist of the story, Amadeo, left the country to live in Spain. The duality between stay on the island or get out of it is explicit in the attitude of each of the characters in the story. And here we are introduced to the sixth member of the plot: the city of Havana.

The panorama from a terrace of a building in the old center of the cuban capital covers the film's photograph with each one of its most important attributes: people living their little lives; crumbling buildings that resist time, carrying the weight of remote and recent history; the Malecón, a concrete boardwalk that runs along the edge of town, establishing the physical and psychological barrier which begin and end dreams and possibilities of many cubans; and the sea, as a promise and challenge, the boundary that divides the island from the rest of the world.

Cantet's direction produces an extremely vivid cinematographic array of rare authenticity and reality of scenes. Discussions are frighteningly credible, full of documentary features, with the camera circling the intimacy of the characters. The script, written with four hands by Laurent Cantet himself and also by Leonardo Padura (cuban author who gained notoriety with the book The Man Who Loved Dogs), contributes so that the dramatic narrative, filmed in one set, works. The story is engaging, cohesive and well written. In an interview to El País Padura told that the inspiration to compose the story came from one of his novels, La Novela de mi Vida. The actors, all cubans, gave convincing performances to their roles. With open scars and melancholy characters, they feel at the same time attraction and repulsion to the island, dream and disbelief.

Return to Ithaca is a movie that may well portray the current Brazil, which flirted dangerously with fascism/socialism/populism in recent decades and now finds itself plagued by the social/economic/political chaos. The Brazilian population, as well as cuban, after having lived a moment of boom where everything seemed to work and that the nation finally seemed headed to be the "country of the future", see themselves deceived by false promises and realize that everything was no more than an utopia. The country (model) to be copied, the unwavering faith of the people in the "savior" of the fatherland and the joy of the people are some of the analogies that can be drawn between the two countries. In the midst of all this, both in Brazil and in Cuba, it is disillusionment, abandoned dreams and bitter life in which millions of people were sentenced. Return to Ithaca tells the story of five cuban friends who have lived, or rather survived, in Havana during the worst crisis in Cuba, which could well be the report of five Brazilians in the worst crisis in the history of Brazil.

Originally posted in: https://vikingbyheart.blogspot.com.br

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Release Date:

3 December 2014 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Himmel över Havanna See more »

Filming Locations:

Havana, Cuba See more »


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Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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