The Horn Of Plenty

The Horn Of Plenty


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Bernadito is a Castiñeiras. He lives in a small Cuban town much like any other, until a rumour spreads of a vast inheritance with a shaggy dog story regarding nuns, treasure and the Bank of England attached. Although initially sceptical about the promises of money for nothing, Bernadito, along with the rest of the town - with the exception of his weak-hearted, firebrand father - become convinced they're due a portion of the loot. But with two branches of the Castiñeiras clan in residence - those with an 'i' and those with a 'y' - it isn't long before they are pitting their wits against one another in an attempt to get their hands on the lion's share.

And it isn't just a lust for money that is a driving force of the narrative, more carnal attractions also beckon, as Bernadito finds himself torn between his wife and a scheming secretary at the factory where he works. This is, primarily, a multi-character screwball comedy with the emphasis on farce. The secret of this sort of genre, however, is control, and although this has so much energy, you are almost charmed by the heady rush of the story, some of the running gags canter away with the pixies. Despite not generating as many laughs as it ought to do - and, the idea of Bernadito falling quite so hard for an other woman is also a little too glib in the circumstances - there is plenty to admire about Juan Carlos Tabío's latest film.

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There is a neat breaking of the 'third wall' in the opening section of the film, which gives it an additional quirky dimension, a wonderful parody of a Mexican stand-off part way through and the acting, particularly from Jorge Perugorría (quite simply, sex on legs in the central role of Bernadito) and Laura De La Luz as the slightly desperate 'other woman' Zobeida is terrific.

The main attraction, however, is the plot's undercurrent, which offers an absurdist, but poignant commentary on the current sociopolitical state of Cuba. From Bernadito's Castro-loving father who wants no part of cash he suspects stems from America, to the crushing poverty many are clearly enduring (as one hopeful puts it, when learning of the prospect of easy cash, "I'll never cook with soy again!"), the script's hints towards the bigger picture of small and large social injustices are many and sly.

Although not quite getting its hands on the treasure trove of laughs it might have done, this is a quirky and enjoyable sideswipe at greed, infidelity and inequality.

Reviewed on: 08 Mar 2009
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The possibility of a share of an inherited fortune causes ructions in a small Cuban town.
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Director: Juan Carlos Tabío

Writer: Arturo Arango, Juan Carlos Tabío

Starring: Paula Ali, Laura De la Uz, Enrique Molina, Jorge Perugorría, Yoima Valdés

Year: 2008

Runtime: 107 minutes

Country: Spain, Cuba


Viva 2009

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