In Cuba before the revolution, Batista’s men punish a Castro loyalist from a wealthy family by shoving him into a wooden cage and calling him a “rich bastard.” Makes me wonder: I thought Batista’s regime only snarled at the poor. In Andy Garcia’s film The Lost City (2005), however, the rich clan of Fico Fellove (Garcia), who owns an elegant cabaret, contains a couple of leftist radicals who deem Castro’s goals absolutely worthy. Then the truth hits. Castro’s regime snarls at democrats.
Romanticized Havana becomes a lost city. Fico, after all, loses his cabaret, and his radical brother commits suicide. Moreover Aurora (Ines Sastre), the woman Fico loves, wishes to stay in Cuba and try to “help” her country (through Fidel’s Marxist means!) instead of following Fico to America. The look that Fico gives a Communist security guard at the airport reflects his understanding of what bullies the reigning revolutionaries really are.
City is based on a screenplay by the Cuban novelist Guillermo Cabrero Infante, friend to Garcia and no fan of Castro. Although focusing on pre- and post-revolutionary Havana is a fine idea, the film is obvious and somewhat calculated. A lot of calculation, for instance, consists in the use of Aurora. Too, the dialogue is unimpressive, and in the cast of characters is a peculiar, nameless comedian (Bill Murray) identified as The Writer. I’m sorry it wasn’t a cameo. Still the movie is involving, and personal. Garcia not only directed and played the lead, he also composed The Lost City‘s music, some of which is dull but some of which sparkles.
Final word: the film makes me want to read Infante.