A 1994 movie written and directed by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, arguably Cuba's best-known and greatest film director.
Gina (Mirta Ibarra) welcomes her aunt Yoyita (Conchita Brando) back to Guantánamo after a 50 year absence; also eager to reconnect with Yoyita is her high school sweetheart Cándido (Raúl Eguren). Sadly, just as the two toast to their rekindled love, Yoyita dies. Gina must return her aunt's body to her home Havana, and thus our story unfolds.
The journey to the capital is masterminded by Gina's husband Adolfo (Carlos Cruz), an officious undertaker who has an ambitious scheme to turn his flagging political fortunes around. His idea is a quintessentially communist one: have each province that bodies pass through on the way to their final resting place responsible for transporting the body from their own provincial capital to the next one. So Gina, Adolfo, and Cándido set out on the long trip from one end of Cuba to another with the body of Aunt Yoyita, transferring the corpse from hearse to hearse as they pass through the provinces. They follow the hearse in a car driven Tony (Luis Alberto García), a smooth operator who is constantly buying black market goods with American dollars and stashing them in the trunk to sell later.
Along the way the party crosses paths again and again with Mariano (Jorge Perugorría), a playboy with a lovesick woman in every town desperate to make him theirs alone. But Mariano and Gina know each other: Gina was his economics professor at university before she was forced to quit for her unorthodox teachings, and Mariano was a student who wrote her a love letter and then quit university in embarrassment. Now he's a truck driver, hauling goods across the country with Ramon (Pedro Fernández), who knows a bit more than Mariano about how to choose good partners and make them happy.
A motif in the movie is the music: a peppy version of "Guantanamera" recurs throughout the movie, with original verses providing a narrative of the movie's characters. Another nice touch is the telling of the legend of Iku during a violent rainstorm; Iku created people who never died, only to see the error of his ways and introduce death into his creation.
Ironically, partway through the filming of this movie Alea, the director, died of cancer; it was completed by his colleague Juan Carlos Tabío.
This sweet and gentle road movie manages to poke fun at the Cuban economic system and the bureaucrats who run it, show off the beautiful scenery of the island, and raise profound questions about love and loyalty and life and death as well. Highly recommended.
Cast info courtesy of imbd.