Amongst the world’s more romantic spots, Cuba is at the neglected end of the scale. Now one of the world’s best-known Cubans is making the most of this attractive quality for his first full feature film, Day of the Flowers.
Carlos Acosta is one of the most masterful ballet dancers of the previous few decades. The principal guest artist at the Royal Ballet in Covent Garden, London, he has danced with some of the most prestigious ballet companies in the world. This June he hit his fortieth birthday and is starting to turn his attentions to other, less physical, art forms.
Earlier this month he published his first novel, the Cuban-set Pig’s Foot, a family saga drawn across three generations. His second new venture is an acting role in Day of the Flowers. Written by Eirene Houston, the film follows two Scottish sisters, Rosa (Eva Birthistle) and Ailie (Charity Wakefield), who visit Cuba for the first time in order to scatter their Cubaphile father’s ashes.
The film may not be the most original, but it has a certain charm. The women are the children of idealists who were regular visitors to the island paradise of Cuba, but it is only Rosa who has inherited their parents beliefs, her sister is more interested in clothes and ogling hot men. Cue personality clash and eventual reconciliation.
As well as the squabbles between the sisters, there is an inevitable struggle between the cultures. Rosa (who is named after German revolutionary leader Rosa Luxemburg) places a naive faith in every Cuban she meets. This is rather unlikely when one of them, although admittedly good looking (Christopher Simpson from Brick Lane), is so obviously a baddie he might as well be wearing a cape and carrying a net for ensnaring innocent tourists.
Despite this shonkyness I couldn’t entirely dislike the film. The star has to be Carlos Acosta, although he is on screen far less than the two sisters. He plays Ernesto, a ballet teacher and nice guy. Carlos has made his name as a performer of ballet, rather than acting, but his charisma appears to be transferable. His posture is extraordinary. Gliding about with perfect poise, the man makes George Clooney look like a slouch. One particularly funny scene sees him dancing with a decidedly ungroovy Rosa.
The run down tropical beauty of Cuba is the film’s other attraction. At one stage Acosta’s character Ernesto says “I care about what happens in my country” and it seems like the director John Roberts is equally keen on the place. The faded grandeur of the colonial architecture and the few shots of the lush countryside do make the place look like a truly enticing holiday destination.
Day of the Flowers might not be the best film ever to be made in Cuba, but it has a tropical lightness that is endearing. The performances from the two principal actresses buoy the shortcomings of the script. Mostly, one can’t help feeling it would be good to see more of Carlos Acosta on the big screen.
Day of the Flowers is out in UK cinemas on Friday, 29 November 2013.