“Amor Cronico” is the latest offering by director Jorge Perrugía. It stars Cucu Diamantes and is an open love letter to Cuba, paying homage to both independent Cuban filmmakers as well as Italian filmmakers, like Federico Fellini. Diamantes plays the main protagonist, a singer who is part Celia Cruz and part Lady Gaga. She considers herself a nomad who is too Cuban to exist in Nueva York and too New York to live in Havana. The movie is part concert film in that it chronicles the singer’s tour through Cuba beginning at Santiago and culminating in Havana while dealing with love.
The Good: The music is otherworldly; the way Diamentes cuts through the screen with a grace that cannot be duplicated. Her co-star Liosky Clavero is especially brilliant, playing the softer edge of a love that promises to go unfulfilled, which pines for Diamantes and laments the love that can never be.
There is a love story here, but the most refreshing aspect is that Diamantes is truer to herself, rather than any of them men who dare to declare their intentions. As Diamantes states in the film, “Love has no cause and all effect.” This kind of messed with me because I was expecting “love” in its “traditional” or “general” representations to win over Diamantes, but I am glad that Diamantes stuck to her guns.
The Bad: The bad revolves around the homage itself. There are so many hidden homages that it detracts from the story. I see the touches of Kalatozov when the story turns its eyes to the ongoing embargo. You might be surprised to know that the name Castro is not mentioned and neither is any animosity towards the United States. In addition, this film was set to subtitles and there was a lot of dialogue that was perpetually lost in translation. I found myself giggling at times, but I felt bad for my monolingual friends because they would never know the joy I felt in my little heart.
Audience reaction: There was a favorable response that swept through the auditorium. There were people in the audience dancing around in their seats. I found myself tapping my feet, which says a lot, since I was blessed or rather cursed with two left feet and therefore I am allergic to dancing.
This movie was one of the best ones I saw during the South By Southwest film festival. Prior to the screening, Perrugía announced that his film was probably one of the best ways of seeing Cuba without getting a visa. One thing in particular that intrigued me was the fact that not only did Diamantes sing one song in English, she sang another in Spanish. Then there were some songs where she would go back and forth during the course of one song. I am not usually the person who recommends musical documentaries, but this film also works as the kind of date movie where both people will not be bored.
I cannot recommend this movie enough.