Review: ‘Memories of Overdevelopment’

An unfortunate follow-up to Tomas Gutierrez Alea's masterful adaptation of Edmundo Desnoes' novel.

An unfortunate follow-up to Tomas Gutierrez Alea’s masterful adaptation of Edmundo Desnoes’ novel, “Memories of Underdevelopment,” Miguel Coyula’s vidshot version of Desnoes’ “Memories of Overdevelopment” pretends to an artistic vision and grandeur that are nowhere in evidence onscreen. Tracking Desnoes’ Cuban intellectual hero, Sergio (Ron Blair), to exile in the U.S. and a life of alienation and loneliness, the erratically edited film misses Desnoes’ rhythm and poetics, coming off as borderline amateur, with a clutch of stilted performances. Commercial prospects are nada, and Latin American response is likely to be hostile.

Like Alea’s film, the new work narrates from Sergio’s p.o.v., with Blair caustically observing the deficiencies of the culture that surrounds him. A New York professor and a collage artist (which Coyula serves up with florid montages), Blair’s Sergio appears tired of life from the start. Going through a chain of women of various ages and finding no solace, Sergio ends up traveling west after his divorce settlement, which occurs simultaneously with the attack on the Twin Towers. Capper sequences involving Mormons and an astronaut in training are neither funny nor profound, but simply, um, underdeveloped.

Memories of Overdevelopment

U.S.-Cuba

Production

A Memorias del Desarrollo presentation. Produced by David Leitner. Executive producers, Steve Pieczenik, Suzana Dejkanovic. Directed, written, edited by Miguel Coyula, based on the novel by Edmundo Desnoes.

Crew

Camera (color/B&W, DV), Coyula; music, Dika Durbuzovic, Hayes Greenfield, Coyula, Luis Novo. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (New Frontier), Jan. 23, 2010. Original title: Memorias del desarrollo. Running time: 115 MIN.

With

Ron Blair, Susana Perez, Eileen Alana, Lester Martinez, Dayana M. Hernandez, Jean Marie Offenbacher, Wanda O'Connell, Reb Fleming, Trent Harris.
(English, Spanish dialogue)

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