A conversation piece on a Havana rooftop may seem like less than an attractive proposition. But Laurent Cantet’s film turns out to be an amazingly astute, perceptive and moving film about a disenchanted generation.

Five friends celebrate the return of Amadeo (Néstor Jiménez), a once-promising playwright who defected to Spain. As the evening proceeds, the recollections grow from nostalgic pleasantry into painful confessions. A whole generation of intellectuals has capitulated, abandoning all their ambitions out of sheer terror. As for Amadeo, running away to Spain put an end to his career.

What makes this particularly Cuban is the warmth and the closeness that permeates all of Cantet’s characters. Shooting the entire film with two cameras, Cantet (The Class) never lets his actors go further than an arm’s length from his lenses. He is rewarded by excellent performances, the kind where actors disappear into the parts they play. Who can ask for more?

Dan Fainaru
Screen International


Please note that the festival is over 18s only