Cast and other V.I.Ps:


The movie is set in Havana, Cuba in the late 70's. David is a Communist university student that falls in love with a woman named Vivian. Because Vivian thinks that David only wants sex, she marries a rich older man. Heartbroken, David is angry and cynical. One day, he sits and reads the newspaper while eating chocolate ice cream at an outdoor café. A homosexual man named Diego finds him attractive and sits at David's table. When Diego begins to flirt with him, David is immediately uncomfortable and wants to move to another table. Upon finding that there are no more vacant tables, he decides to ignore Diego and quickly eat his ice cream and leave. Diego orders strawberry ice cream and in a friendly way chats to David while he eats. David is doing a moderate job of ignoring the man when Diego says something that catches David's attention: "I have pictures of you." After listening to Diego for a few minutes more, Diego convinces David that he knows who he is and what he's up to, and that he has pictures to prove it. David agrees to go back to Diego's apartment, but only to retrieve incriminating photographs. However, when they arrive at Diego's apartment, Diego doesn't give David the pictures, and instead serves him tea. David is fascinated by the amazing and contraband things found in Diego's apartment. Many of the things are of a political, religious, artistic, intellectual or political nature banned in Cuba. Though he is slightly afraid, David stays to look for the photos of himself. When Diego comes back in the room, he spills tea all over David, and David is forced to put on another shirt. Diego makes suggestive statements to and hits on David, which makes David angry. He speaks harshly to Diego, and leaves the apartment soon after, without the pictures and angry, but curious as to Diego's business. Later David goes to Diego's apartment again, and is more kind to Diego. Throughout the film, Diego and David become friends. In Diego's building lives a woman with the same beliefs as Diego, a neurotic woman named Nancy. David eventually falls in love with Nancy, which heals his broken heart after Vivian. Not only does he learn to love again, but he becomes accepting of beliefs unlike his own, whether liberalism in a country ruled by censorship or befriending a gay man.

I had to watch this movie for a Spanish class. This movie is definitely not for the immature. The opening scene has the main character and his girlfriend stripping down for a quickie at a cheap motel, and a random hole in the wall (suspiciously like a glory hole, through which David watches an orgasmic woman ride a guy like a mechanical bull.) It was a small class, but probably 90% of the people in the class giggled, probably because they were uncomfortable. As the movie progressed, I thought it was odd that the Cuban life depicted sexual acts as less controversial and taboo than politics, literature, religion, and goods from outside Cuba. Also, some people got antsy about the gay guy's (Diego) unwanted advances on David (the homophobe.) Also, Diego was flamboyantly gay, only perpetuating the stereotype that all homosexuals are flaming. Honestly though, this is a really good comedy about sexual minorities, with the issues about Cuba's government kind of a less-focused on issue.

Interesting tidbits:

  • The movie can be purchased with English or Swedish subtitles.
  • The film was awarded the prize for best film at the Havana Film Festival in 1992 and it is based on the award-winning novel "El bosque, el logo y el hombre nuevo" [The Wolf, the Forrest, and the New Man] by Senel Paz.
  • "El bosque..." the story on which Fresas is based relates David's character to the Biblical David and Diego to Goliath.
  • In 1995 it took an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
  • When the film was released in 1994, Castro prided himself on the movie and its progress toward the gay liberation front. Apparently the 'progress' was short lived, because in 1997 the government raided a gay bar in Havana, El Periquiton; eight-hundred club-goers were detained or fined.

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