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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.
At the screening, the director, Paddy gave an introduction about his personal experience with seeing a drag performance years ago where an individual was having the best time of their lives. He said that those who knew the performer were crying due to the fact that that was the only place this individual could truly be who they were.
That introduction set the mood for the movie. I'm afraid if I wasn't lucky enough to have the director give some backstory I would've liked it less.
The beginning of the film had a few clichés. A troubled protagonist unsure of how to make money, family issues, shopping in record stores. As it went on the clichés dwindled, immersing the audience in Cuba. Our main character's routine continued, and I found myself falling more into his psyche. His family issues became more relevant, his troubles were mine, and even the records had an important role in the story.
By the end people around me were weeping.
The only note I had was that there were a handful of times where moments should've been longer. Just an extra few seconds on those emotional scenes would've gone a long way. Not sure if that's a directing or editing critique.
I'm afraid of using an incorrect term here, so forgive me if I do. But as LGBT rights continue to finally be as important as they should've been decades ago, it's great to see more films like this, especially when they are well done. I hope this film gets the recognition it deserves.
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