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When everything is for sale, what's the value of love? Jesus does makeup for a troupe of drag performers in Havana but dreams of being a performer. When he finally gets his chance to be onstage, a stranger emerges from the crowd and punches him in the face. That stranger is his father, Angel, a former boxer who has been absent from his life for fifteen 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.
Viva (2015) is an Irish film, set in Cuba, directed by Paddy Breathnach.
The film stars Héctor Medina as Jesus, a young gay man who is a professional hairdresser. He also works fixing the wigs of drag queens who perform at a local night club. Eventually, he performs in drag, and he turns out to be highly talented.
Jesus's mother is dead. His father killed a man, and has been in prison for 20 years. The plot begins when his father returns. Angel, played Jorge Perugorría, starts out as a unidimensional macho brute. However, director Breathnach is too talented to let him remain nothing more than a stereotype. An interesting relationship begins between father and son, and that's the real strength of the movie.
Well, that's one of the real strengths of the movie. The other strength is the music and the drag performances. These men are talented, and we don't just see little clips of their acts--the camera lingers on them, and their work draws you in.
We saw this movie in a special preview performance at the excellent Little Theatre in Rochester, NY. The ImageOut LGBT Film Festival is one of the highlights of the year in Rochester, and ImageOut sponsored this special showing.
The director of ImageOut film selection, Michael Gamilla, told us that he saw this movie at a festival in Berlin, and begged the producer to let it be shown in Rochester. (It will be shown in the U.S., but only in limited release in larger cities.) Because the movie hasn't been released yet, a print was available, and Rochester got it. Good work by Michael; good luck for us.
This is a movie that will really work better on the large screen, because the drag performances will be diminished--literally and figuratively--on the small screen. If you live in New York, Chicago, Miami, or San Francisco, you may get a chance to see it in a theater. If not, try to get it on the small screen. You'll still enjoy it.
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