In art, as in life, generalizations are dangerous. They simplify, blur, often hide the essential. Thus, it’s rash to say that such a novel is that of the Mexican Revolution, that greater than any play explains a social movement as elusive as Peronism, or that bolero summarizes the sentimental position of the Latin lover.
Thus, it’s inaccurate, incomplete, to say that Vicenta B., essentially the most recent work by Carlos Lechuga (Havana, 1983), is the film of Cuban disenchantment of this hour.
Vicenta, who practices divination through the complex of beliefs of Afro-Cuban religious syncretism, sees the family disintegrate. She lost her marriage because, within the opinion of her ex, she lavished herself on the mission of providing “light” to others in order that they may find a great development, and he or she didn’t deal with the house, understood because the sum of the closest affections. He, he says while talking, was there, but she couldn’t see him.
Now, on the time of the narrative, which is ready in 2017, her only son, Carlitos,1 leaves the country. He is an element of the incessant stream of young individuals who leave the archipelago within the hope of finding a greater destination that may allow them, at the identical time, to satisfy their expectations of economic improvement and to assist relatives who’ve been left behind in precarious conditions.2 Vicenta didn’t foresee this; neither along with her arts could she twist fate’s arm. The result: she has been left on their own, in the course of her magical universe. And he or she begins to lose faith in what she thought was the explanation for her life, which is to say losing her strength, her ability to anticipate events, to dialogue with the beings, now sullen, now magnanimous, that populate that area, between sleep and wakefulness, which is her world.
For more ardor, our character errs the prediction that a young woman has requested. Vicenta tells her that every little thing is superb, that there are good days and bad days, but that in essence the letters don’t reveal greater evils. The girl commits suicide, and that immense weight falls on her shoulders to sink her deeper into pain and despair.
We are going to advance the plot as much as here. The film, which has not yet had its industrial release, has had a great tour of international festivals. Thus far it has been seen in Toronto, San Sebastián, Biarritz, Ceara and Goa; today, October 15, it’s going to have its screening on the Chicago International Film Festival.
Greater than archetypes, Vicenta B. presents characters. It’s a work in an intimate key that, in my view, doesn’t intend to develop thesis or enunciate ideological discourses. They’re beings of their circumstances. And people circumstances correspond to those of a great a part of the population of the country in crisis that’s Cuba. There isn’t any picturesqueness or folkloric flavor. Those that are amazed that, as a result of its rhythm within the montage, the sober form of the performances or the shortage of “beauty” within the photography doesn’t resemble a Cuban film, start from assuming a stereotype of the national that good art tends to disclaim time and again.
The old man who simulates an illness is just that, an old man who pretends. Tata, Vicenta’s godmother, is, like herself, a fallible being, who confesses that greater than once she has been plunged into discouragement. Carlos, the ex, is shown as a tragic man who, apparently, still has feelings for Vicenta, despite the indisputable fact that she has rebuilt her life….
At a time of such political sensitivity, it is simple for possible readings of the film to run amok down the road of the allegorical. And the thing is that Cuba’s hardship is such at this moment, the social environment so tense, that every little thing alludes to it; any gesture, any image, any phrase seems loaded with political meaning.
Vicenta B. (2022) is the third fiction feature film by Carlos Lechuga. It’s preceded by Melaza (2012) and the controversial Santa y Andrés (2016), not yet released in Cuba.
Vicenta… is a suggestive, well-cared piece that claims quite a bit with only a few resources. In it, the performance of Linett Hernández Valdés, within the leading character, the photography of Denise Guerra and the edition of Joanna Montero stand out; Claudia Calviño was in control of production.
The story could seem local, but it surely has all of the empathic elements that ensure universal reach, because it speaks of recognizable human conflicts that concern us all. It is just not the film of Cuban disenchantment, but a Cuban film about disenchanted beings.
With Vicenta… Carlos Lechuga marks a rising point in his profession. Because it is just not a complacent film or one which is expressly politically aligned, it’s going to even be controversial. But art is for that, amongst other things: to plunge our hands into reality, to tear the shadows, to indicate us in all our contradictory complexity, to feed with beauty — and Vicenta B. is a movie that holds an important load of unconventional beauty — the times’ stake.
1 The name corresponds to that of the director, who also had a fortune teller grandmother.
2 In keeping with data from the Center for Democracy of the Americas (CDA), around 178,000 Cubans have arrived in the USA to date in 2022. The figure exceeds the sum of emigrants to this country through the 1989 Mariel exodus and the 1994 rafters crisis.