Cuba (1979)

Cuba (1979), directed by Richard Lester.

Mercenary ex-soldier Sean Connery arrives in Cuba on the eve of Castro's revolution. It is too late for him to do any good for Batista, but he does reconnect with an old girlfriend. Love in a time of war, with both armies shooting and usually hitting the wrong people.

He is disillusioned twice: once because his dream girl exists mostly in his dreams and he doesn't mean that much to her. Secondly because his loyalty to legitimate governments is a delusion: his employer is irredeemably corrupt. We are supposed to sympathize with the revolutionaries, but are reminded that General Batista was himself a revolutionary decades earlier. The wheel turns.

I saw this in the theater and didn't think much of it at the time, probably because Connery doesn't get the girl, is on the losing side and gets little chance to be an action hero, although there is some of that.

I've become more interested in Richard Lester since and liked it better this time, maybe just because it is his film. Steven Soderbergh classed it as one of his "Fascinating Films That Get Better With Age".

On the down side: it is one of those "intertwined storylines" plots, which requires more skillful plotting than just rattling people around as if they were marbles in a box. The dramatic flow is hampered because we don't have such skill here, which seems typical of Lester. Often (not always) a well-designed narrative is just not very important to him.

Balancing that: nice period detail and a stylish treatment of troubled times with revolution everywhere, giving both rich and poor their moments.

An appealing cast:

Photographed by David Watkin. Filmed in Spain.

Available on Blu-ray from Kino.