Tuesday, September 17, 2013
"Only in Miami is Cuba so far away." - Bette Midler, "Only in Miami"
Lucy Mulloy's "Una Noche" is about the opposite phenomenon: how only in Cuba is Miami so far away. There are three main characters: the narrator, Lila (Anailin de la Rua de la Torre); her closeted gay brother, Elio (Javier Nunez Florian); and hunky Raul (Dariel Arrechaga), who works with Elio in a hotel kitchen in Havana. Elio and Raul have been planning to try to sail to America for some time, but their departure is hastened when Raul catches his AIDS-stricken mother prostituting herself in a scene that ends with the john's eye bloodily gouged. In Havana, where the police protect tourists above their own people (at one point, we hear over the police radio "We have a citizen trying to talk to a blonde"), Raul is assumed guilty, leading to an exciting and fast-paced manhunt through and above the city streets. I thoroughly enjoyed Mulloy's portrayal of Havana in its all wet stickiness (there's an incredible image of waves sloshing high against and even over a tall seawall), a city of empty stores where anything can be had if the price is right and you know whom to ask for. The quasi-love triangle aspect of the story is handled less deftly, and the film's abrupt late turn to survival on the seas feels too short and not completely convincing (at times, they appear to be oaring in a kiddie pool rather than the Atlantic).