Two friends, one dream. Growing up against the backdrop of the corrupted communist Cuba, Ruy (Alberto Joel Garcia Osorio) and deadlocked buddy Tito (Roberto Sanmartin) have been breathing, living, and most importantly believing in their music. They want to bring the suppressed, forgotten music of Havana out of the past, and into the twenty-first century. Two big-time music producers from the states come to town bringing news that their signing up bands from Havana, and taking them to Spain. It’s their only ticket out of the lives, and by proving that they are truly talented, and reveal the passion behind the soulful tunes, their worlds are about to change. Yet, as they know so well, life is never this simple. With a broken marriage, broken country, and broken-dreams, life for Ruy gets even harder. Questions circle the brothers throughout the film, leaving you aching to find out, will they leave their suffering behind, can Ruy forget his Cuban routes, and will the music make or break them?
Success virtually drips form this cultural movie, with themes of the past, loss, love, moving forward, and never letting go, Havana Blues is truly an inspirational movie about two brother’s who are wiling to lose everything they have, to gain the one dream they’ve been clinging onto. They need the fame. They need to lose themselves in the music, in order to forget the past.
However, if I’m forced to criticise this film. I’ll have to make aware my disappointment that not enough of Cuba was brought to life. Throughout the film I kept hoping for just a small peak into the back alleys of the vibrant city. I anticipated the heavy debates for democracy, and at least a glimpse of a Cuban’s way of life. Yet just one look into the dilapidated, magnificent theatre the band plans to perform in is good enough for me, exposing just a fragment of the cultural city of the past.
Director Benito Zambrano , has only two films to his name, but with this inspiring, painful and real film to add to his list, I’m sure he’ll be praised by movie-lovers all over the world in upcoming years. With the Turia award for best Spanish film 2006 under his belt, I’m looking forward to seeing a lot more of his work in our cinema.
With its beautiful mix of hope and torment, love and loss, perfection and corruption and overall, escaping and being left behind, HABANA BLUES will change your outlook on today’s musical world. With our rising stars from hip-hop, pop and indie-rock, Zambrano forces us to remember the essence of music, that it’s a way of life, and for many, a way of letting go.
Watch this film. Trust me, after the 94mins of living through these boy’s eyes, you’ll learn one crucial message: Life isn’t about moving forward, but letting your dreams take your home.
Written Review by LiveWire Critic, Geogina Brown (Mar ’07)