A Successful Man (3 stars)

A Successful Man

(12A) 104min (Network DVD retail)


Along with Tomás Gutiérrez Alea (Strawberry and Chocolate, The Twelve Chairs), Humberto Solás is one of the most prominent of the filmmakers to emerge from Castro’s Cuba, and this film from the 1980s is reminiscent of his acknowledged 1969 masterpiece, Lucía. Or rather a section of it is: for, while in Lucía Solás ambitiously traversed Cuban history from the 1890s to the 1960s to understand Cuba’s slow but inexorable move towards liberation, A Successful Man more ploddingly covers the lives of two brothers, Dario and Javier Arguelles, as they react to the Spanish Civil War and events that led eventually to Cuba’s revolution. This sometimes has the air of a truncated mini-series as everyone ages and waits, either optimistically or despairingly, for times to change. Films like Lucía and Alea’s Memories of Underdevelopment (1968) felt like revolutionary works; this, though an important and very welcome release, sometimes suffers from a cinematically exhausted middle-aged spread. Minimal extras.

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