Lost City [1935/II]

For his first feature film as a director, Andy Garcia has crafted an ambitious and vivid love story set amid the Cuban revolution. El Tropico, an elegant nightclub, overflows with exuberant music and sinuous dance; the owner, Fico (Garcia, Ocean's Eleven, The Untouchables), and his family live a life of privilege in Havana, but Fico and his father hope to steer the brutal reign of Batista towards democratic reforms. Fico's two brothers are not so patient and get caught up in the guerilla forces that seek to overthrow Batista by force; one dies after a failed coup attempt, the other joins Fidel Castro's revolutionary army. Meanwhile, Fico and his widowed sister-in-law Aurora (Ines Sastre) fall in love, their romance unfolding in the still-thriving Havana nightlife, while during the day Castro's new regime turns as repressive as Batista's. Gorgeous cinematography captures the spectacle of the musical numbers in El Tropico, which are never less than stunning, and the depiction of the political chaos is effective and dynamic. Unfortunately, at the heart of the movie is stasis; Fico, though morally indignant, never takes any action, and his courtship with Aurora is beautifully filmed but lacks palpable heat. Clumsy dialogue and odd digressions with mobster Meyer Lansky (Dustin Hoffman, Rain Man) and a seemingly metaphorical character known only as the Writer (Bill Murray, Lost in Translation) make a long movie feel even longer. But the music is undeniable; if your feet don't itch to dance after watching The Lost City, you have no soul. --Bret Fetzer

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