Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Una Noche

Apart from some nice photography of a sea-swept Havana, there’s really little to recommend in this sincere but scattered telling of an escape to America.

Aug 22, 2013

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1383488-Una_Noche_Md.jpg
Writer-director Lucy Mulloy’s Una Noche is narrated by Lila (Anailín de la Rúa de La Torre), a Havana teenager with an unhappy home life, who is bullied by other girls because of her relative dark hirsuteness. Her one supporter is her twin brother Elio (Javier Núñez Florián), who tries to encourage her out of her withdrawn, observer nature. She’s utterly devoted to him, but he happens to be besotted by Raúl (Dariel Arrechaga), a hustler who, sick of his Cuban life which consists of nothing but “sweating and fucking,” plans to steal away on a raft to Miami, taking Elio (and, as it turns out, Lila) with him.

First-time helmer Mulloy has a potently absorbing subject here; her heart seems to be in the right place, but her handling is haphazard. She overloads her film with plot and characters, trying too hard to convey the hardscrabble existences which her three protagonists long to leave. The result is a serious case of cinematic ADD, encompassing parental abuse and adultery, AIDS (one parent is afflicted by it), homophobia, etc., with her film proceeding in fits and starts all over the place, rather than flowing in a sensibly expository fashion. Maybe this jumpiness was what she had in mind to translate the chaotic rhythm of Cuban life in the new millennium, but it sorely taxes the viewer’s patience. Lila’s narration is not only unnecessary but distracting: You can’t have elegiac wistfulness and dangerously in-your-face immediacy in the same moment. 

The three leads give it their perspiration-soaked all and are engaging enough, if somewhat too monotonously and sketchily angst-ridden, and not all that sympathetically drawn. But the movie truly goes astray once they set out to sea. The raft sequences are so haplessly unconvincing, with the three alternately bickering and displaying lust for one another (Raúl for Lila, Elio for Raúl, etc.), that even when a shark menacingly appears, you don’t much care about this rather rote dramatic contrivance.


Film Review: Una Noche

Apart from some nice photography of a sea-swept Havana, there’s really little to recommend in this sincere but scattered telling of an escape to America.

Aug 22, 2013

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1383488-Una_Noche_Md.jpg

Writer-director Lucy Mulloy’s Una Noche is narrated by Lila (Anailín de la Rúa de La Torre), a Havana teenager with an unhappy home life, who is bullied by other girls because of her relative dark hirsuteness. Her one supporter is her twin brother Elio (Javier Núñez Florián), who tries to encourage her out of her withdrawn, observer nature. She’s utterly devoted to him, but he happens to be besotted by Raúl (Dariel Arrechaga), a hustler who, sick of his Cuban life which consists of nothing but “sweating and fucking,” plans to steal away on a raft to Miami, taking Elio (and, as it turns out, Lila) with him.

First-time helmer Mulloy has a potently absorbing subject here; her heart seems to be in the right place, but her handling is haphazard. She overloads her film with plot and characters, trying too hard to convey the hardscrabble existences which her three protagonists long to leave. The result is a serious case of cinematic ADD, encompassing parental abuse and adultery, AIDS (one parent is afflicted by it), homophobia, etc., with her film proceeding in fits and starts all over the place, rather than flowing in a sensibly expository fashion. Maybe this jumpiness was what she had in mind to translate the chaotic rhythm of Cuban life in the new millennium, but it sorely taxes the viewer’s patience. Lila’s narration is not only unnecessary but distracting: You can’t have elegiac wistfulness and dangerously in-your-face immediacy in the same moment. 

The three leads give it their perspiration-soaked all and are engaging enough, if somewhat too monotonously and sketchily angst-ridden, and not all that sympathetically drawn. But the movie truly goes astray once they set out to sea. The raft sequences are so haplessly unconvincing, with the three alternately bickering and displaying lust for one another (Raúl for Lila, Elio for Raúl, etc.), that even when a shark menacingly appears, you don’t much care about this rather rote dramatic contrivance.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Laggies
Film Review: Laggies

Disappointing comedic entry about a late-20s slacker who won’t grow up is writer/filmmaker Lynn Shelton’s first outing directing someone else’s material. Points here for strong cast and an occasional chuckle, but otherwise there’s just no point. More »

Rudderless
Film Review: Rudderless

Well-done indie drama about a lost-soul house painter reborn through rock ’n’ roll is a nice actor’s showcase for star Billy Crudup and an impressive directorial debut for actor William H. Macy. But in spite of some good work onscreen, both hero and story lack the edge and originality to carry this drama beyond respectability. More »

Camp X-Ray
Film Review: Camp X-Ray

Army guard and Guantanamo detainee form a grudging relationship in a thoughtful but far-fetched drama. More »

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
Film Review: The Tale of The Princess Kaguya

As charming as it is delicate, this unusually low-key, if a tad overlong, animated feature brings yet more prestige to the famed Ghibli output. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Fury Review
Film Review: Fury

American tanks fight superior German forces in the closing days of World War II. More »

Birdman
Film Review: Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Virtuosic camerawork and a stellar ensemble of actors more than make up for the occasional moment of portentous twaddle in Alejandro G. Iñárritu's latest—and maybe his best—film. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here