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  • A love letter, sincere though not lacking criticisms, from the director to his country. I love the style of this Cuban director whose work I see for the first time though this is not his first one. In it three stories evolve, while a narrator decides the sakes of the characters, with the whistling acting as a trait d'union working as the image of a much wished freedom of expression. Original is the idea of depicting as orphans all the characters, maybe with the intention of suggesting to the world that Cuba starts suffering for lack of affection, because of the isolation she is forced to, by the manouevres of those who believe the capital is more important than the people. And while this image might seem too tender with Cuba, not so is the story of Julia, a woman who faints any time she hears the word "sexo", and of Dr. Fernando who shall show her, causing a comic carnage of passers-by, that a lot are the words which aren't willfully heard on the island. Then there's the story of choices to be done: she is a dancer who has to choose between him, dancing, God, orienting herself amongst a myriad of overridings and troubles. Eventually there's Elpidio, who dreams of a mother by the name of Cuba, has a true declaration of love tattooed on his back, then feels betrayed and has the tattoo burnt. ("Nobody is perfect", he reassures an ugly beggar at the end of the film, attempting to find a consolation statement for both) refusing a possible escape to another place and another love, no matter what. The final meeting of the characters in an unusually deserted Plaza de la Revoluciòn is, like most of the film, a mix of melancholy and hope for a future with more freedom and opportunity.
  • This films shows how political censorship enriches artists' imagination and visual language and the entire narrative needed in cinema. Perez was not able to say IT aloud and therefore he says it with beautiful metaphors. People in film have severe attacks of yawn, lustful fantasies and fainting. These are no signs of fatigue or desire but of things not having space enough to become true in a totalitarian society. There are words and ideas not being said aloud anymore: freedom, love; as also those which struck us like hammer on head: sex, hypocrisy, life-lies. People have their strategies to survive until the day someone says it aloud.
  • Even as Cuban films go, LA VIDA ES SILBAR, a festival-circuit darling from Berlin to Havana throughout 1999, is unusual. Not political (great!), not driven by a single plot, and exploring themes such as religion and mysticism, the film deals with present-day Cuban life for the lucky few in the intellectual artistic milieu. Having said that, situations confronting this segment of Cuba's population are realistically portrayed and again without an obvious political agenda. The movie inspires a spirit of hope (very needed to survive in Cuba) through a budget production which is in itself a statement of Cuba's film industry and indeed its economy. Though the film is not really accessible to most viewers, even among the "arthouse" crowd, I would definitely recommend it to Latin American film buffs well versed in Cuban cinema.
  • It's all about Cuban fate and how it will bring our three protagonist together. A poetic and surreal piece that lends itself to comedy and melodrama! Perez's directorial influence may have derived from the films of Elisio Subiela and Alexandro Jodorowsky. There are also hints of Fellini with the occasional background sound of that dreamy kind of wind scattering about in our subconscious.
  • Reading the other comments on the page and seeing the movie, I enjoyed Life is to Whistle. I saw use of the different words, like "sex" when the girl fainted, meant to be like people weren't using the words in the same way and they weren't using freedom in an everyday sense. When things are forbidden, the characters had a psychological reaction and thus they responded with reflexive actions like fainting or yawning. I think this was the director's commentary. I enjoyed how the three people were represented from the time they were children and how, as they grew up, they had their own separate lives that went on. Julia dedicated herself to being a caregiver, forgetting about herself and her own needs. When Julia brought in her daughter and left her at the orphanage, Elpidio was there and he accepted her as a little sister. Growing up not talking, she would whistle instead. The dancer Mariana wanted a part so badly that she vowed celibacy to God if he gave her a certain part in a dance. This is how she expressed her passion. People in the movie did not use the words "freedom" or "love" and sex was not had because of people's love for each other. People were not used to hearing these words, and it would make them faint when they eventually did. This movie is a typical representation of Cuban cinema because it talks about patriotism and freedom; it shows how poor the country is but that despite the lack of money, they did the best that they could to make their lives their own. There are also undertones of betrayal and how the country betrays its own residents, shown by Elpidio burning the tattoo off of his back. Overall, this movie was not outstanding but it was from the point of view of Latin America and it was speaking to the people of Havana, letting them know that they could have freedom and that "love" and "freedom" need to be brought back into the community.
  • I liked this movie in general. The things I could not understand made it difficult for me to give a precise judgement at the end. It is, like many Cuban movies, full of life. It shows how people there take life so simple and how they are open to each other. It is a movie about the search for happiness and maybe liberty in Cuba. The society was also criticized. It showed that some people cannot hear the word liberty or honesty! In some parts the borders between reality and fantasy vanish which makes it more interesting like a mysterious taxi driver who knows about the destiny of all the people. He is perhaps the destiny itself personified in a nice person. Each one of the three protagonists live in his or her way and tries to find happiness in his (her) way. I am still asking myself about the meaning of the whistle in this movie! Probably it is a symbol of freedom. This movie is nice and worth seeing but is not one of my big favorites in the Latin American cinema.
  • One has to see carefully this film without loosing any scene. Here the scenes are scattered like a Victor Hugo´s novel, so you must make the links in your mind in order to understand the subtle messages. Elpidio is a Cuban guy, son of a lady called Cuba, so this is the way to say something not about Cuba mother but Cuba country. The plot makes too much emphasis on sex, and when people on the streets listen this word, they fall down. The most interesting scene is when the doctor trying to help an old lady who does not want to listen the word sex, publicly says that double standard should not exist and that everybody should be him or herself. So in these scenes there is a critic to the way of living of several Cuban citizens. The cult Yoruba is also clear how most of the Cubans practise it, being Elpidio an active practiser of this cult. Another aspect shown here is the sexual tourism in Cuba, a foreign lady from unknown country (played excellently by Isabel Santos) falls in love with Elpidio (Luis Alberto García), she had sex with all the erotism of the world with the Cuban guy. The film was very careful not to show the poor state of Havana sites and streets, it only shows the famous Havana Malecon, which is in a very bad conditions. In conclusion, this is a modest Cuban film, probably the director did not want to go beyond certain line to avoid any internal bitter critic.
  • I had great hopes for this movie, which I rented after reading other comments, and also based on my previous experience with some excellent Cuban movies. This one turned out to be the worst, with no substance, poor dialog, and an incredible lack of action. Passion is shown as something evil, to be avoided by all means. The scenes of fainting people everywhere are beyond the limits of stupidity. Some of the characters are beyond fantasy, as is the recurrent idea of coincidence against all odds. Having met friends who recently came from Havana, it is clear that the director avoided showing the miserable state of that city. It is hard to believe that this awful creation received any award ever. The only reason I give it a 3 out of 10 is out of respect for most of the main actors, who were pitifully wasted.