Review: ‘Viva Cuba’

Director Juan Carlos Cremata Malberti takes a creative retreat from his eccentrically clever if mannered debut "Nothing More" with "Viva Cuba," a slight slice of childhood life that feels calculated as a work to make Cuban cinema accessible to the fest circuit.

Director Juan Carlos Cremata Malberti takes a creative retreat from his eccentrically clever if mannered debut “Nothing More” with “Viva Cuba,” a slight slice of childhood life that feels calculated as a work to make Cuban cinema accessible to the fest circuit. Designed to appeal to families, adventure of a boy and girl venturing across Cuba to stop the girl’s mom from emigrating is played too broadly for sophisticated auds, but should do lusty local biz. Pic is Cuba’s Oscar entry.

Young Jorgito (Jorgito Milo Avila) and Malu (Malu Tarrau Broche) hide a deep affection for each other underneath their surface friction. He’s reared by pro-Castro parents, while she’s raised by a bourgeois Christian mother (Larisa Vega Alamar) who decides it’s time to emigrate. The catch is that her ex (Abel Rodriguez Ramirez) must sign a so-called “exit authorization,” inspiring Malu (with Jorgito joining her) to venture via bus, hitchhiking and on foot from Havana to stop him from signing. Odyssey is laden with symbolic gestures denoting a nation in search of itself, but the pic suffocates in its own cuteness.

Viva Cuba

France - Cuba

Production

A DDC Films release of a Quad Productions/TVC Casa Productura/La Colmenita/El Ingenio co-production. (International sales: Latido Films, Madrid.) Produced by Eric Brach, Nicolas Duval-Adassovsky. Executive producer, Inti Herrera Nunez. Co-producers, Nunez, Juan Carlos Cremata Malberti. Directed by Juan Carlos Cremata Malberti. Screenplay, Manolito Rodriguez Ramirez, Malberti.

Crew

Camera (Eclair color), Alejandro Perez Gomez; editor, Angelica Salvador Alonso; music, Amaury Ramirez Malberti, Slim Pezin; production designer, Guillermo Ramirez Malberti; costume designer, Vladimir Cuenca Montane. Reviewed on videodisc at Toronto Film Festival (Contemporary World Cinema), Sept. 17, 2005. (Also in Cannes, Giffoni, Vancouver, Rio film festivals.) Running time: 79 MIN.

With

Malu Tarrau Broche, Jorgito Milo Avila, Larisa Vega Alamar, Luisa Maria Jimenez Rodriguez, Sara Cabrera Mena, Albertico Pujols Acosta, Abel Rodriguez Ramirez.
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