Overview An unfamiliar tale, with known consequences. We are introduced to the lives of three young people seeking more than what Havana, Cuba can offer. Their plan of escape is the primary focus of the movie. Review I personally haven’t seen this story done and off the bat, the idea is quite refreshing. Also, the…

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An unfamiliar tale, with known consequences. We are introduced to the lives of three young people seeking more than what Havana, Cuba can offer. Their plan of escape is the primary focus of the movie.


I personally haven’t seen this story done and off the bat, the idea is quite refreshing. Also, the characters, both main and supporting, all play a role to not only give life to the story but the locale and culture as well. It’s so realistic it almost has a documentary feel to it. The actors seem to play genuine people, the way the camera is used to catch little moments like how Elio looks at Raul, or to take in the landscape is masterful and though a lot of the spoilers I give below deal with the drama of the film, it’s quite comical.

Spoilers – Please Note This Review Was Done in 2012

  • Lila – Anailín de la Rúa de la Torre: A young Cuban girl who seems to only have a connection with her brother, and eventually a young man named Raul.
    • Lila is the older of the fraternal twin set of her and Elio. She throughout the movie is moving about in her school uniform and it seems some of the girls from school love teasing her about the hair on her arms.
    • She enjoys karate and a few times does get physical.
    • Her story deals with her brother and Raul planning to leave Cuba in order for Raul to find his father in Miami and to have a better life.
    • Until about midway or 3/4 through the movie, Raul and Elio share this plan only with each other. On the beach, they hide and build supplies, and after Lila discovers their plans she goes to dismantle everything.
      • She, however, isn’t caught and someone else catches the blame.
      • The reason Lila finds out about their plans is because she follows Elio due to him having grown distant since he has been involving himself with Raul and though she originally doesn’t like Raul, she comes to rely on him more and more, especially toward the end of the movie.
    • After Lila finds out about their plan and fails to convince Elio to abandon it, she joins them on their exodus.
      • During the trip, she gives Raul many reality checks in regards to the possibility of him even finding his father which leads to her getting pushed into the ocean.
        • She doesn’t know how to swim so Elio has to rescue her.
      • Also, she gets her first period while on the makeshift raft and it attracts sharks
      • A storm then comes and flips the raft and Elio gets killed by the sharks which had been stalking the three young people.
      • In the end, the exhausted Lila and Raul end up right back where they started.
  • Elio – Javier Núñez Florián: A brother, a friend and a man hiding his desires.
    • Elio is a fun loving young man. He likes to swim, hang off buses while on his bike so he can go fast speeds, and he like Raul.
    • Elio and Raul meet through working at a hotel and the camera at first only hints to Elio possibly having an interest in Raul. As time goes on the two get close, at the expense of Elio’s relationship with Lila. Eventually, Elio and Raul (off screen and before the film begins) make plans to leave the island. They use agents who have helped others leave and Raul uses a few people to get the materials they need.
    • Though the raft is not fully done, an incident Raul causes makes them have to hurry their plans. Elio sales his bike for a motor and a parting gift to Lila. He isn’t slick enough though not to create worry and suspicion so she follows him.
    • While Lila destroys the wood for the raft, Elio is looking for Raul who is being searched for by police. Elio finds him drunk and possibly ready to commit suicide. He saves the boy’s life and they head to the beach to leave.
    • With caution, Elio, Raul, and Lila leave the beaches and Havana and are off on the 90-mile journey to Miami.
      • The first problem they have is the GPS that was stolen for the trip has a dead battery.
      • The 2nd issue comes from Raul getting sick and Elio, while Raul is relaxing, kissing Raul.
      • The 3rd issue comes when Lila gets her period and sharks start scraping against the boat and making it sink.
      • The most important issue though is Elio who also traded his bike for a seatbelt.
        • After a storm tosses them over, Elio has an issue with getting the best off and though we don’t see him get eaten, he is seen in the water with blood leaving his person.
  • Raul –  Dariel Arrechaga: The comical, flirtatious and machismo Raul is the catalyst for everything.
    • Raul comes from a slightly broken home. His father left ages ago and his mother is a hooker infected with HIV. She also seems to be at the final stages, and with his job working in the kitchen filled with idiots being unsatisfactory, much less his relationship with the head chef being terrible, he looks for a better life.
    • With Elio, he plans to achieve this by escaping Cuba. Through using women he messes around with, he gets most of what he needs or gets something he can trade for the materials he needs.
    • What causes Raul’s plans to go to crap is him returning home from his job, and catching his mom mid-fellatio. The tourist, as he goes to leave, bumps into Raul and ends up having his eye jammed. The man leaves, but later on, we are told he dies. In Cuba, when tourist dies the police seemingly issue a manhunt for you and either you hide or make best of the time you have before they find you.
    • Raul though decides to drink himself into a splendor, maybe get some tail before he gets caught. He even tries with one hooker who turns out to be a man, it’s very comical. His sights sporadically go to, throughout the film, Lila, but while she likes him, his attitude stands in the way.
    • Now, before Elio comes to save him, we see him drinking off the side of a building and possibly ready to jump. Elio previously told him the raft was nowhere near ready, and jail time doesn’t seem like much of an option. However, Elio finds him, tells him the boat can save his life and they are off to the beach.
    • After sleeping and arguing about Elio getting to go and Lila getting to go, they push off onto the water.
    • Raul is dressed up to see his dad as Lila shivers during the night, he eventually comes around and is nice to her, and flirts with her constantly. He even steals a kiss. The two butt heads though when Lila reminds him that just knowing his dad’s first name isn’t going to help much for it is so generic that it could be anyone. Much less, there is no picture to at least know what the man looks like. The fracturing of a dream leads to Raul pushing her into the water, not knowing she can’t swim.
    • Now, when Lila gets her period and the sharks come, the first sign of them freaks Raul out and makes him pause. He eventually snaps out of it but is still very shaken. Also, when the first get out to sea Raul gets sick to the point he can’t row and must relax, this is when Elio steals his kiss. Which makes their relationship awkward for awhile, but Raul eventually comes around and recognizes his bond with Elio is important.
    • Fast forwarding, once the boat capsizes and Elio is nowhere to be found, Raul is the one that makes sure Lila stays alive. He keeps her above water with what looks like a piece of styrofoam or chum which is floating in the water. He holds her throughout the night and then they reach the shore. However, upon a scene showing Raul in handcuffs, it seems despite all they went through, they only ended back in the place they were trying to escape.
Things to Note
  • I was lucky enough to go to a screening of this which had a Q&A after. So here are some things that were said:
    • Lucy Mulloy: Director and Screenwriter
      • The project started 6 years ago after she visited Cuba.
        • Says the story was inspired by a tale a young teen told her while she visited Cuba. In that story, there was one difference: the girl who got her period was thrown over and killed.
        • One of the other reasons she wanted the story to be told was to not only film the location but expose the culture.
      • This is her first movie, did it with friends and she went to school at NYU.
      • When it came to casting, they did huge casting sessions and even themselves looked for people who could fit the roles. Raul himself was a musician, Lila they found at the beach and Elio was a student they found at a high school.
      • When it comes to whether some scenes and incidents were choreographed, she says it was only done lightly. A lot of the characters who represent Havana are themselves but simply filmed at a convenient place.
        • One instance is a singing man who sings to Lila and makes her smile.
        • Another instance is a rapper who entertains a few women and their kids.
      • To many people’s surprise, all filming was done legally with the help of one of her friend’s getting all necessary permits. Also, the cops in the film are real cops, and they helped a lot during production guarding equipment and so on.
      • As you may remember, there were problems with getting some of the cast over for the Tribeca Film Festival, as well as issues with two looking for asylum. It seems, despite Cuba’s reputation, almost all issues during the production came from the US government and this is despite the various festivals providing proper documentation among other things.
      • Last, but not least, she announced she is working on a sequel Una Noche Mas which hopefully will bring back Raul and Lila (who by the way were on stage).

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