The new film, The Cuban, directed and produced by Sergio Navaretta, is “Must see” hit.
Cast as a fragile 80-year-old with vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s, lead actor Louis Gossett Jr., who is actually now age 84, stretches his acting prowess. His performance is entirely captivating, yet character-wise as far as can be from the tough-as-nails drill Sergeant Emil Foley he played, mentoring Richard Gere, and others, in “An Officer and a Gentleman”–for which he became the first African-American to win an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor. That was filmed in 1982 when Louis was 46.
Now, once again this extraordinarily talented actor pulls us into a highly believable persona. I watched mesmerized. Finally I was able to enjoy a film that felt real: A real story about real people and about how they can connect agelessly. The story evolves around the relationship between actress Ana Golija, playing Mina, a young Iranian immigrant in medical school who works part time at the nursing home where Luis Garcia (Gossett) is a resident. There, he is living out a lonely, isolated life without any stimulation, with unfamiliar food he hates, estranged from his family, dying by inches. Slowly, Mina gains his trust. When she discovers that he was once a renowned jazz musician, she smuggles in music—along with the kind of Cuban food he loves. Slowly Luis begins to “awaken.” Gossett’s changing facial expression, the way his eyes and face light up when he hears his beloved Cuban music being played in his room for the first time by Mina, is worthy of another Academy Award right there. The plot takes many interesting twists and turns. l especially loved the fantasy sequences of old Havana!
I have to commend The Cuban screenplay by Alessandra Piccione and the brilliant direction by Sergio Navarretta. We also cannot overlook Hilaro Durano for the score. I admit without embarrassment that I jumped up and danced around my living room several times—the music is that exciting and energizing!
Approaching my own 80th birthday this month, fortunately still, as people tell me, remarkably youthful, with more book projects than ever, I was especially moved by Mina as a sweet, generous, caring young woman who argued courageously on Luis’ behalf. I would hope that if I ever have to go into a care facility (please God let it not be so) that someone as remarkable as Mina would find me and do for me what she tried to do for Louis Gossett’s Luis Garcia.
I also want to mention another outstanding cast member: I remember Shohreh Aghdashloo, a famous Iranian actress who plays Mina’s aunt. I met Shohreh on the set of the hit series “24” when she had a recurring role. My late husband’s son was the Show Runner, so I got to be in the Writers’ Room a few times and also met some of the character actors.
That was several years ago, and Shohreh is as lovely and talented as ever This is a stellar cast. As I said the story feels real and relatable. It is about human connections, and about the power of music to awaken us in so many ways. It is also about the fallibility of memory. I hope to never lose mine, but if I do, please, send a Mina my way.
In sum, this is a glorious movie, a perfect happiness pill for today’s world of hurt and our current enforced isolation from one another. I hope you will seek it out, and that you enjoy it as much as I did!
The Cuban began playing in virtual cinemas on July 31st. This means you can go to websites of theaters and rent the film for 48 hours. You can see the trailer and playdates on the website – http://www.thecubanmovie.com/
The Cuban was reviewed by Judy Katz, who can be found at: katzcreativebooksandmedia.com