Emily Mody - The Cuban

Posted on Wednesday, November 25, 2020 at 11:00 AM

The Cuban

Review by Emily Mody x CalgaryMovies.com

The Cuban is a feature length American drama directed by Sergio Navarretta. The story follows nineteen-year-old Mina (played by Ana Golja), a pre-med student who starts working at a nursing home. On her first day she encounters a patient named Luis (played by Louis Gossett Jr.). After Mina discovers that he is a Cuban musician they connect over their love of music and Cuban culture.

To put it simply, I did not like this film. I felt that there were so many lost opportunities that it became nearly unbearable to watch. Let’s start with Mina. To say that she was naïve and incorrigible would be a vast understatement. Her character was introduced within the first few minutes of the film utilizing five words, “What is wrong with him?” In response to meeting Luis for the first time. When Mina was leaving his room, she posed the question to her superior who began to list off his conditions. I cannot begin to express the frustration I felt at this moment. What a load of ableist bullsh*t. It is not her place, nor anyone else’s to determine when a physical body is wrong or right. I understand that Mina is a fictional character but she represents a group of people who help care for the most vulnerable people in our society. Nothing was done to correct this question or the way it was asked. As you can imagine it was difficult for me to get past this moment, but I pushed on regardless. Overall, the relationship between Mina and Luis was heavily focused on furthering Mina’s story which I did not enjoy. In general, I felt that Mina’s story was forced, inauthentic and manipulative. There was no substance to her character. 

Secondly, the cinematography was very odd. I understand that this was mainly utilized to demonstrate the confusion and fear that Luis was feeling as he remembered his past but it did not read like that. It felt like the camera work pushed the audience away and forced them to notice how disjointed it had become and not in a good way. The camera work felt very separate from what Luis was experiencing.

Thirdly, the focus on Cuban culture seemed extremely shallow. I do not consider myself an expert on Cuban culture but I do understand that there is more to it than food and music. Exploring the political ramifications had the potential to inform much of Luis’ character but we saw none of this. I felt like this would have made the story much more interesting and authentic.

I wish that there was a stronger emphasis on Luis’ character in general. Unfortunately, his character was really only used to push Mina’s narrative. Even when she met her boyfriend Kris (played by Giacomo Gianniotti), they only connected over conversations regarding Luis. Luis’ character was very realistic and although there was a small focus on his past, I wish that had made up the majority of the film. Luis’ character is relatable and honest. With a greater focus on Luis’s character, I think this would have also allowed for a fuller and richer understanding of Cuban culture. The Cuban is rated PG and is 99 minutes long. 

Calgary Showtimes: Cuban, The >


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