The Cuban Review – Delightful, A Testament to the Power of Music

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The Cuban, from Brainstorm Media, brings to the screen a story on the power of music as it unlocks the memories of a failing mind, and for one moment allows the two to once again be joined.

Directed by Sergio Navarretta The Cuban stars Louis Gossett Jr., Lauren Holly, Ana Golja, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Giacomo Gianniotti, Shiva Negar, Jonathan Keltz, Miriam Learra, Rubén Breñas, Gabriela Sanchez Hernandez, Raisel Cruz and Javier González and was written by Alessandra Piccione.


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The film centers around Luis Garcia, played by Louis Gossett Jr., an elderly patient in a nursing facility. He, as we see, is challenging. His caregivers consider him mute, cantankerous, and as he is in the early stages of dementia, we know Alzheimer's is soon to be a reality.

Today a new aide, Mina, played by Ana Golja, a pre-med student who has given up her dream of becoming a singer, becomes the primary caregiver to Luis. After seeing the poster on the wall of Benny More, the great Cuban Jazz musician she does a little research hoping to find a channel that switches Luis' mind from mute to on.

Day by day she slowly reintroduces Luis to those moments when he was El Guitaristista, the famous Cuban Jazz musician. First through music, and then she takes one more step and changes his carefully prepared dietary, and very bland, foods with her own prepared Cubano delicacies. With the music and the food Luis has a resurgence, he is more mentally alert, talkative, he finishes his meals, something no one could accomplish.


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Nurse Baker, a strict by the book and only what aligns with our care system supervisor, played by Lauren Holly, is a shadow to Mina as her efforts with Luis are obvious and he is becoming alive again. Mina believes living to die is not living and if by changing his food he becomes closer to his old self then he should be permitted to eat the foods he enjoys. Unfortunately, this is a severe infraction.

Mina is Muslim and raised by her aunt after her family died in Afghanistan, her life is essentially ordered by the patriarchal standards of the Muslim faith, which include arranged marriage. Her cousin, Zahra, played by Shiva Negar, is trying to break free from tradition only to end up becoming a token in a business deal which benefits her family's financial situation.

As Zahra lies to her family and meets her western boyfriend, Ethan, played by Jonathan Keltz, she brings Mina along and introduces her to Kris, played by Giacomo Gianniotti. The two break traditions and become more than friends, as each are pre-med studying the stages of brain deterioration and find common ground through Luis.


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As each day passes the music awakens him more and more until the colorful world of his past becomes vibrant and real again.  He reacts, reminisces, dances, reveals his incredible life as a famous musician in Cuba, and talks about the one great love who was left behind. 

But as Luis becomes more and more awake to the world, tensions rise at the nursing home. 

Mina is seen as a disturbance; her job is threatened. Desperate to help him out of his isolation, she resolves to break Luis out of the nursing home and, with the help of her friends, grants him his one last wish to 'return' to Cuba and perform on stage again.


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The Cuban blends the memories of the early carefree days as a young talented and respected musician with the reality of now. The musician may pass away but the vibrancy of the sound, and consuming Caribbean beat remains.

The ensemble cast delivers a powerful performance. Louis Gossett Jr., captures the essence of an aged, ailing, senior, isolated and alone. Lauren Holly and the support actors, elderly and nurses, all create the realism to believe the story and Ana Golja surprises with her vocal performance.

An audience award winner, the film is as charming as it is tragic. It calls to all to live each day to its fullest, enjoy life, love, and most of all music. A profound story.

Magnetic, charming, a must see!  The Cuban is streaming everywhere. See it.

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