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7 Days in Havana/7 días en La Habana

3/10

Stars: Josh Hutcherson, Daniel Brühl, Emir Kusturica, Melissa Rivera, Elia Suleiman, Jorge Perugorría, Vladimir Cruz, Mirta Ibarra, Luis Alberto García, Daisy Granados

Director: Benicio Del Toro, Juan Carlos Tabió etc

Havana, which plays itself, is vibrant and colourful and gives far and away the best performance in this Cuban-set portmanteau picture.

As an attractive tourist friendly promotional movie, 7 Days in Havana really hits the spot.

As a septet of short dramatic films, it doesn’t.

The best of the bunch is director Pablo Trapera’s ‘Jam Session', which boasts a bizarre but sporadically amusing performance by director Emir Kusturica who sends himself up (I assume) playing himself as a booze-sodden drunk filmmaker who is attending a film festival in Cuba and befriends his chauffeur Alexander Abreu. Kusturica’s sheer zest keeps you watching and entertained until he, like the episode, runs out of steam.

Benicio de Toro turns director with a forgettable minor offering giving The Hunger Gamesstar Hutcherson the role of a young aspirant Hollywood actor in Havana: the punchline, such as it is, which has Hutcherson picking up a gaudy woman who turns out to be a transvestite male, sadly lacks punch.

Other tedious tales involve a Cuban singer facing problems, a Palestinian in Cuba facing problems when he needs to interview a prominent Cuban, an Afro-Cuban girl forced into a ‘cleansing’ ritual, a day in the life of a woman with two jobs and a gaudy comic turn involving the serio-comic preparations for a religious celebration.

For the record, it took seven directors (Benicio Del Toro, Juan Carlos Tabió, Laurent Cantet, Julio Medem, Gaspar Noé, Elia Suleiman, Pablo Trapero) and nine writers (Leonardo Padura, Alejandro Fadel, Martin Mauregui, Santiago Mitre, Pablo Trapero, Julio Medem, Elia Suleiman, Gaspar Noe, Laurent Cantet)to achieve the film. Too many cooks...?

Watching it felt like a long, long haul, similar, say, to flying from London to Cuba steerage.

Alan Frank

France/Spain 2012. UK Distributor: Soda Pictures. Colour.
128 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 08 Jul 2012