With all the angst over race relations in our society and the arts intensely focusing on this issue, it’s fitting that one of the most diverse casts to premiere this summer online and in selected theaters doesn’t specifically focus on race as a political theme. Instead it’s more about relationships between family and friends.
Sergio Navaretta’s The Cuban is little bit of an updated Driving Miss Daisy (1989) for a modern crowd. Only this time instead of a white, elderly lady and black, middle-aged man, it’s an elderly black Cuban (played by Louis Gossett Jr.) and a young Afghan-Canadian lady (Ana Golja). And instead of the younger of the pair driving the older person around, the woman is a pre-med nurse at the nursing home where the Cuban is residing.
Golja’s Mina is a 20-something living with her Aunt Bano (Shohreh Aghdashloo), a former doctor, while working her way up to a physician career. She does well at the local nursing home when she meets Luis (Gossett), whom she discovers is a once famous Cuban guitarist with dementia and apparent unhappiness with his current situation.
Mina quickly learns that reminders of his homeland and youth in Cuba put him in better moods and help improve his memory. Soon she secretly begins bringing Luis homemade food and vintage records from Cuba to improve his health—as well as learn the backstory of his life and predicament.
The Cuban is a fine, family-appropriate dramedy with plenty of heart and warmth for fans of feel good movies. There’s drama, but it’s not too intense. The romance isn’t out of place or graphic, and it feels like both the cast and crew had a good time filming the story.
One thing I did like about the characters is that the film treats Mina’s love interest, played by Giacomo Gianiotti, who is arguably better looking than her, as if it’s nothing out of the ordinary and not a big deal, which is refreshing.
For a modest, enjoyable drama, The Cuban might be intriguing for those looking for something a little different.
Megan Bianco is a Southern California-based movie reviewer and content writer with a degree from California State University Northridge.