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  • Viva Cuba
    • Viva Cuba
    • Runtime:80 min
    • Release Date:2014-09-19 15:48:03
    • Director: Juan Carlos Cremata Malberti
    • Genres: Comedy, Drama
    • Studio:
MOVIE REVIEW:Viva Cuba
Auhtor:

   

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As Jorgito(Jorge Milo) and Malu(Malu Tarrau Broche) sit on a rooftop
and contemplate the young girl's impending departure from Cuba, the
camera moves. One-hundred-eighty degrees later, the camera rests on the
backs of their heads. We're looking with them, from their
point-of-view, towards an uncertain future(for Malu, a faraway land
across the ocean); not at them, in which we laugh condescendingly about
the melodramatic proclamations that young people make about being
inseparable. They'll survive the break-up. We know that. Some of us
went through the same ordeal ourselves at that tender age. The camera
moves as a way of representing the past and the future. But after the
tears stop flowing, with the camera at repose, Malu's head turns
towards Jorgito and asks him to run away with her. This gesture, this
hatched plan of Malu's, places them in the present. Right here, right
now, these close friends decide that they won't be split up without a
fight.

No matter how hard the school and the children's parents try to instill
their political views upon Jorgito and Malu, politics never comes close
to tearing them apart. This is best exemplified when the movie irises
in on the boy and girl as they walk home from school, taking them out
of context, out of Cuba, and into a world where only they exist; a
world in which they are equals. As actual denizens of Cuba, however,
Jorgito and Malu aren't equals(the boy is proletarian; the girl is
bourgeoisie). "Viva Cuba" demonstrates this Havana reality at the
outset when Jorgito is on his knees while Malu towers over him. But
then Jorgito stands up so he's facing his friend, but still, in spite
of the children's apolitical relationship, Malu remains taller(a
reminder of their economical disparity). Malu wants to be the Queen of
Spain, an absolute monarch, but because the girl comes off as
disarmingly sweet and unpretentious, you give her the benefit of the
doubt. She's just bossy; not a demagogue.

"Viva Cuba" is a terrific rite-of-passage film that beautifully
captures a passionate friendship of platonic love between opposite
sexes which could only exist without the base culture of the west
hastening their advancement towards a pre-pubescent sexual attraction.
CGI effects service the genre of magic realism, not science-fiction
this time, and the results are breathtaking. But "Viva Cuba" would be
nothing without its outstanding performances by Jorge Milo and Malu
Tarrau Broche, who in the best tradition of neo-realism, are natural
and never less-than-real.

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I liked this film a lot. It is an easy-going, friendly creation — not
a lot of drama and nothing fearful or anxiety-producing, just a sweet
story, which is great as far as I'm concerned. I think anyone would
appreciate its genuine humanity. In particular, I loved its ingenuity
– this film is very different from standard Hollywood fare. The
opening credits are extremely clever and the magical realism of Latin
America was nicely evident. I thought some of the slapstick humor was a
little too sophomoric, but there were also some extremely funny
moments. The political overtones were occasionally heavy-handed, but
the chance for an inside look at the Cuban people makes this film worth
the price of admission. The two main actors were children and amazingly
good. The filming of the Cuban countryside was first-rate. It is a
gorgeous country. There were also a couple of very easy-on-the-eyes
guys. (If you see this film, you'll know who I'm talking about!)

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If you are planning a trip to Cuba any time soon, here are
complimentary tips:

1) Avoid this Island in July. unless you lived in a steam bath your
whole life.

2) Expand the trip to the country side. Cuba is much more than cigars
and salsa bars.

3) Whatever happens, never drive at night in the A1 freeway. it's wide
and has no traffic but it has potholes big enough to have their own zip
codes

Why am I telling you all this, you wonder? Well Cuba is an Island
ensconced in revolutionary romanticism but shadowed by the stagnant
leader who brought his country to the brink of bankruptcy. The U.S.
embargo might be an inhibitor (and not a very justified one, I might
add) but it's not the cause. There are plenty of reasons why there are
hordes of Cubans wishing to go 98 miles north from Havana to the Miami
border and leave the "revolution" for the enchanted tourists.

One of those people is Divorced middle aged woman who, after a short
grieving period over her mother's death, decides that her future will
not be on Cuban soil. Unfortunately, her daughter Malu is a close
friend with Jorgito who's mother and Malu's mother are arch-enemies,
mainly because Jorhito's mother is a devout communist and Malu's mother
is a "burgois" (in Cuban terms) Christian (Christianity is a legitimate
practice of faith in Cuba since 1989).

The disgruntled kids, Malu and Jorhito, know that once Malu's father
will sign the exit authorization papers for his ex-wife, they will
never see each other again. In a desperate attempt to save a deep bond
that grown ups simply cannot attain, Malu and Jorhito go through a
clandestine and perilous journey all the way from Havana in the North
to Camaguay in the south. When I did this journey with my friend in a
rental car, it took us 12 hours, 2 flat tires and the better part of
300$ so you can expect these 12 year old kids to stumble on a few
obstacles of their own.

The voyage to the bottom of the last communist nation on this planet
(and no, China is not even remotely communist these days) is a test of
the friendship its meant to save but its also a unifier between the
alienated mothers who find out that they have more in common than they
thought or should is say, cared to believe.

The viewers get to find something else as well. They get to see Cuba
outside the myth, away from the cigar factories, Hoze Marti's monuments
and the colonialist architecture. Cuba is not only the one of Ernest
Hemingway and Che's legacy of revolution, it's also the rural island of
good natured people it always was. Even before Castro emerged from the
Siera Madre and replaced a reign of tyranny with another.

Those who get to know Cubans, know that the fledgling economy,
dilapidating buildings and obsolete infrastructure diminished Castro's
appeal and although no one misses Batista, it's more than obvious that
after Ilcommendante passes on, Cuba will go through a very profound
metamorphosis. That is not to suggest that Cuba will become
corporation-land like its northern neighbor but the winds of change are
breezing into the mujitos. This film, although doesn't criticize Castro
and even depicts an overly complimenting view of Havana, adds little
hints that Che's Ideology is not immunized from mortality anymore than
Che himself was.

Don't let my tedious manifest to make you believe this film is a
history lesson or a camouflaged propaganda. This film is personal, it
deals with the friendship of two 12 year old that are reluctant to
succumb to the petty ways of the adult world. It's a story about two
kids that rock their parents look on life simply by doing what they
passionately believe in. The director, Juan Malberti knows that the
appeal of the film is the genuineness of it's protagonists and he
wisely let their acting talent (which they have in abundance) dictate
the emotional scenes and set the tone of the film in general.

This film didn't make me put a "Hasta la Victoria siempre" (Che's motto
meaning: always until triumph) sticker on my car but than again, that
isn't its goal. This film is about the triumph of friendship over
hardship and, aided with a great cast, wonderful writing and
almost-flawless direction, this film is one of the most enjoyable
cinematic experiences I had in a very long while.I assume this movie
can appeal to anyone, regardless of one's opinions about communism. The
only Ideology endorsed in this film is that adult cynicism is never a
match of the children's benevolent outlook.

Of course, if you are into movies, you know that already.

9 out of 10 in my FilmOmeter.

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Malú and Jorgito fight every now and then but are in love.Only their
families don't see it that way. Her mother is a devout Catholic with
strict ideas of who she should associate with. His family are
card-carrying communists with a deep sense of party loyalty. Both
families are too absorbed in their own problems and hatred for each
other to take much notice of the children.After Malu's grandmother dies
Malu's mother decides to leave Cuba and join her boyfriend
overseas.When Malú finds out that her mother is about to take her away,
she escapes with Jorgito armed with the savings from her piggy bank.
Their search for Malú's father who can help her stay in Cuba
begins.Their journey involves a long journey across Cuba with many
adventures along the way. As their families search for them , the two
realize that life on the run is not all they thought it would be and a
kind of homesickness begins to set in. Viva Cuba is a quirky
coming-of-age road movie.

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