17 December 2008 | maxwithanaxe
Quirky, comic thriller from the master director of third cinema
This film comes from the cream of Cuban cinematic tradition. Released just three years after the revolution, this is a more lighthearted approach from director Tomas Gutierrez Alea.
The plot follows an Cuban exile who has returned to the island from Miami to locate his 12 English Chairs, one of which his dying mother told him contains valuable jewels. However, on his return he realises all of his property has been possessed by the government, and so goes on the trail to find them. It turns out he is not the only person on the trail, and he enlists the help of a younger man.
I enjoyed the comic elements of this film. Gutierrez Alea, best known for Memories of Underdevelopment, here provides a quirky critique of capitalism through its very self-interested protagonist, and the people who are duped into his freedom fighting scheme. The film is ideologically socialist, but Gutierrez Alea was also a critic of some Revolutionary policies and this film is not without self-irony.
This film deserves to be seen by more people than appear to have seen it (35 votes?). It's a funny, intelligent thriller that has no doubt suffered due to Cuba's geo-political situation, rather than its narrative and aesthetic achievements.