The first American film shot in Cuba since the revolution, this Havana-set memory film is a melancholic love story that evolves into a universal meditation on life. An old man, Luis (Carlos Padrón), reads the obituary of a famous dancer - his lover from many years ago. His memories and dreams are tinged with a half-remembered melody, a tune that he tries to track down with the help of a friend. "I need to get this melody out of my head so I can rest," Luis says to Ovilio. The song leads Luis on a melancholic Wild Strawberries-esque journey through past that was often opainful but nevertheless passionate and meaningful.
Island-hopping from Jamaica, the site of his first (co-directed) film Wah Do Dem, writer-director Ben Chace immerses us in the rhythms and mood of Havana, a city where the past remains unusually present. Shot with great texture and immersiveness by Sean Price Williams (Listen Up Philip, Heaven Knows What), memories, dreams, and reality bleed together yet remain divided by a different color scheme for each time period. Through this fluid style, Chace traces the outlines of larger historical forces as they impinge on the experiences of Luis and those around him; the result is a rumination on those stolen moments that linger and make life worth living. Sin Alas binds itself to the viewers memory.
Check out this interview with director and star Mario Limonta here, where they discuss filming in Cuba.
The overall effect is that of a pure and beautiful simplicity. There is nothing in the way between the story and its impact. Sheila OMalley, Rogerebert.com
"Sin Alas is not a political film; rather it shows how peoples lives are defined by personal relationships on which political systems have little effect. As for Cuba, its a different matter. We will be grateful for Chaces evocative souvenir once Walmart, Amazon, and Chase come to town." Amy Taubin, Artforum
When Luis picks up Isabela one rainy afternoon, the antiqued scene vaguely suggests the nostalgic reveries of Wong Kar Wai, even with the poster of a gun-toting Fidel Castro marking the 1959 overthrow of Batistas Cuba. Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
Northwest Film Forum (View)
1515 12th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98122