The Lost City

The Lost City


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Andy Garcia tried to get this film about a family in revolution-hit Havana made for around two decades, the end result is too much in almost every regard.

The plot is too sprawling, despite focussing on one family - desperate to tick off macro politics as well as mafia machinations and family strife. An academic father (Tomas Milian) tries to keep his sons on track as their political views threaten to tear loyalties apart. One of them, Fico (Garcia), is a club owner, disinterested in politics, who believes life will continue much the same whoever is helming the country, while his brothers have a much more revolutionary stance. Ricardo (Enrique Murciano) is keen to join Che and Fidel up in the pampas, while Luis (Nestor Carbonell) is part of a faction desperate for the overthrow of Batista yet unwilling to fight alongside Castro.

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When one of the brothers has bad things befall him it isn't long before Fico is cosying up to his sister-in-law (Inés Sastre), who also has burgeoning revolutionary ideas. This is in addition to exploring the workings of Fico's club El Tropico, which are peppered with dry observations by his resident US ex-pat comedian (Bill Murray) and a largely pointless brush with Mafia boss Meyer Lansky (Dustin Hoffman).

The performances, meanwhile, stretch from the too wooden - Sastre, whose extensive CV suggests she is hampered here by a bad script (too twee and confusing) and English dialogue - to the too lightweight - Murciano, sporting an outrageous Fidel-alike comedy beard, is laughable when it comes to the heavy emotional scenes.

All of this is crowned by direction which is too fussy. Garcia is determined to intercut scenes in a mistaken belief that this will ratchet up the tension. So, we see an attack on Batista's palace woven into a cabaret performance. All of which is just confusing. Where is the cabaret act? At the club? The Palace? Nothing is clear. In fact, the set action pieces are simply too stagy to be believable. Dead bodies are draped ever-so-artistically and people are flung by explosives into the air with all the reality of a clown act. By the half way point I was beginning to take back everything I said re Steven Soderbergh's dull-as-ditchwater Che: Part II - even he manages to drum up more tension than this.

It is not an unmitigated disaster, the scoring is filled with some rip-roaring tunes (though the music overwhelms the film's more delicate moments), while Garcia is a strong as ever in the central role and the cinematography is beautiful, hinting at what might have been with better editing. Still it's ultimately too long and too muddled to hold the attention. Too bad.

Reviewed on: 15 Feb 2009
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The Cuban revolution as seen from the perspective of a family in Havana.
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Director: Andy Garcia

Writer: G Cabrera Infante, D Daniel Vujic

Starring: Andy Garcia, Inés Sastre, Tomas Milian, Nestor Carbonell, Enrique Murciano, Dustin Hoffman, Bill Murray

Year: 2005

Runtime: 144 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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