28 April 2012

Film Review: Lost City (2005), by Andy Garcia, ****

In 1958 Havana, nightclub owner Fico Fellove (Andy Garcia, who also directed) watches as political upheaval grips Batista-ruled Cuba. While his brothers join Castro's revolution, Fico refuses an offer from American gangster Meyer Lansky (Dustin Hoffman) to help turn his club into a casino and falls in love with his soon widowed sister-in-law (Ines Sastre).

The film was shot in the Dominican Republic, ironically the country batista fled to after his forces capitulated to Castro on new year's day, 1959.

A good historical movie to show how right were many middle class Cubans to despise the Batista dictatorship and how wrong they were to believe that supporting Castro and Guevara would improve things much. Yet, the widespread criticism that Garcia does not show enough of the poor and destitute of pre-revolutionary Cuba is only partially mitigated by his ridicule of Batista in the first part of the movie. The title itself (translated "Adieu Cuba" in the French version) betrays a certain nostalgia by the author for the bygone days. But in the end the viewer is left with a strongly negative view of both Batista and Castro, as well as Guevara. Well deserved.

The movie is a bit long but well worth its time for it allows the viewer to savour the colors, music and atmosphere of Cuba 50 years ago. But this is perhaps due to the long script by Guillermo Cabrera Infante.

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