Eye For Film >> Movies >> Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (2004) Film Review
I know what you're thinking: this is Dirty Dancing, except, like, in Cuba, right?
On the surface, the story is similarly simple. Bookish girl, who has never been one for dating, meets a boy at a holiday resort she has been brought to by her parents. Big difference, though: this is not a Fifties summer camp for families; this is Cuba on the verge of Castro's revolution - and it's based on a true story!
I must admit, the historical significance of the setting really does lend itself nicely to the plot and this cynic has been forced to admit that I rolled my eyes about Havana Nights too soon. For a romantic date movie, it's pretty good. If anything, I think being marketed as the second in the Dirty Dancing franchise may have turned off a lot of its potential audiences, as it did me.
Please note: although this film does have the same essential equation, it does not have the same storyline.
While Katie (Romola Garai) is a stereotypical all-American girl, her love interest is not a dance instructor, but Javier (Diego Luna), a waiter at the hotel she is staying at, who gets fired soon after they start spending time together - the staff isn't allowed to fraternise with the guests in Havana, either. Katie decides that since he lost his job because of her she is going to win a dance competition with him, so Javier can support his family with the $5,000 prize money.
While Katie is torn between her country club parents, who seem a bit too cool and understanding for the Fifties, Javier is torn between "la revolucion" and an exiting American future, represented by his new dance partner. And, for those who might think that this sounds too different from the Dirty Dancing formula we know and love, have no fear. An older (boy, has he aged!) Patrick Swayze is there in the background, as the hotel's dance instructor, although ALL he does is dance, I swear!
The performances are better than adequate and it comes as no surprise that the dancing is fabulous. It would have been nice to have had a little more historical criticism of America's role in Batista's Cuba, but, hey, this is a date film, so the violence and oppression is minimal.
The soundtrack is a mix of modern and period: a respectful nod to the formula of the first, and, if you like Latin and R'n'B, then put this CD beside the Dirty Dancing original (come on, you know you still have it somewhere).
If Havana Nights is your type of thing, then here is another goodie to add to your collection. Even this sceptic shed a few tears at the end.Reviewed on: 26 Nov 2004
If you like this, try:Tango