Andy Garcia plays Rick… er… I mean Fico, who runs a lavish nightclub in Batista-era Havana. The revolution is brewing, and two of his brothers are drawn to the cause. Fico is apolitical, putting family above all, but the revolution will transform his life whether he wants it or not, and then there’s the problem of falling in love with his brother’s wife.
Garcia not only starred here, he also directed, co-produced and scored the film. His elegy to pre-Castro Cuba is shooting to …e a cross between The Godfather and Casablanca – heady goals indeed. Simplistic nostalgia and characters and erratic pace doom the project, but it looks great and aimed high.
Music plays a big role in the film – it is, one might say, one of the principle characters. So it is nice to be able to report that said music sounds terrific. The mix is energetic, exciting, and completely enveloping. This is, unfortunately, counterbalanced by some rather serious flaws in the sound, principally concerning the dialogue. Whenever voices are raised, quite awful buzz occurs, enough to jolt one out of the movie.
The colours are very nice, as are the contrasts and blacks. There is no visible edge enhancement, but there is a bit of grain. As well, the image, though decently sharp, is sometimes softer than it might be. The flaws are nowhere near as bad as those on the audio track, but this is a very handsome film, and the transfer isn’t always up to conveying this.
Garcia is joined on the commentary track by actor Nestor Carbonnell and production designer Waldemar Kalinowski. Theirs is a serious, interesting discussion, but one can’t help but wish writer Guillermo Cabrera Infante had lived long enough to take part in this as well. The three men also contribute optional commentary for the 10 deleted scenes. The making-of feature is an excellent one, with Garcia explaining in great detail what he wanted to achieve and how it all came about. This stands head and shoulders above most other features of this type. There are extensive cast and crew notes, and Garcia provides yet more notes for the original poster art. Finally, there’s a behind-the-scenes still gallery, and, oddly, an ad for a cigar company.
The film is not up to its vaulting ambitions, but earns points for having them, as does Garcia for having stuck with this project for so long.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
- Making-of Documentary
- Still Gallery
- Original Poster Art
- Cast and Crew Notes