With its wispy-thin plot and a soundtrack stocked with Cuba’s greatest hits, The Cuban doesn’t make big demands of its audiences, one of which named it best narrative feature, at the Los Angeles Pan African Film Festival in February.
But simple doesn’t have to mean lacking in entertainment value. Featuring the great Louis Gossett Jr. and Toronto actor/producer Ana Golja, the story of an aging Cuban musician battling dementia in a Canadian nursing home delivers a sweet tale of music, memory and amor.
When we first meet Mina (Golja), a pre-med student and Afghan refugee with an unlikely but convenient love of Cuban music, she’s just started working in a nursing home. That’s where she meets Luis (Gossett), whose condition – vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s – makes him withdrawn and sullen. But a poster on the wall of his room starts her humming, and darned if music doesn’t awaken a flash of recognition in the old man.