- Movie Rating -

Viva (2015)

| September 18, 2016

There is a frail tenderness in Jesus’ eyes that broke my heart.  All through the Cuban drama Viva, I beheld those eyes with a sense of wonder.  Played in a beautiful performance by Héctor Medina, Jesus is the kind of person to whom you can sense is always waiting for something.  What that is, even he may not know.  The movie sees him as an individual, a person, someone for whom life is waiting to happen.

Jesus works in a gay club called owned by Mama (Luis Alberto Garcia) and does makeup for a troupe of drag performers in Havana but, of course, dreams of becoming a performer himself.  Night after night, he watches the ‘girls’ go onstage and perform campy numbers but knows that he has the guts to perform but not the opportunity.  Eventually, of course, he gets his chance when one of the divas runs off just before curtain call.  Jesus takes the stage name ‘Viva’ and emerges onstage to give a performance that is unpolished but fortunately the audience is receptive. 

Once he is on the stage, a stranger emerges from the crowd, climbs up to the stage and punches him in the face.  The man is Angel, who is the father the Jesus has not seen in 15 years.  He is an angry man, a former boxer, a wife-beater and a murder who just got out of prison.  He quickly strong-arms his way into Jesus’ life and makes note the his disapproval of his son’s sexual orientation.

But this isn’t one of those tepid indies about reforming a bullish right-winger.  But the script here keeps Angel just outside of being a cliché.  He’s a brute and a drunk but there is much more to this man than we first realize and the choices that Jesus is forced to make are crucial to his identity.  Is a difficult and violent father better than no father at all?  This is a movie that is much more than it seems and through Medina’s performance, it’s much more human than we expect.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2015) View IMDB Filed in: Foreign