The Lost City (2005)
Director: Andy Garcia.
Starring: Andy Garcia (Fico Fellove), Inťs Sastre (Aurora Fellove), Tomas Milian (Don Federico Fellove), Richard Bradford (Don Donoso Fellove), Nestor Carbonell (Luis Fellove), Enrique Murciano (Ricardo Fellove), Dominik GarcŪa-Lorido (Mercedes Fellove), Dustin Hoffman (Meyer Lansky), Bill Murray (The Writer), Lorena Feijůo (Leonela), Steven Bauer (Captain Castel), Juan FernŠndez (President Fulgencio Batista), Jsu Garcia (Ernesto "Che" Guevarra), William Marquez (Rodney), Julio Oscar Mechoso (Colonel Candela).
love story set in Havana at the time of the takeover by Castro
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire film.
Havana, Cuba, 1958. Two young men shoot a man in a military or police uniform and say itís a message from Peligro ("danger" in English).
A floor show with a chorus of beautiful women takes place at one of the night clubs. The owner of the club is Fico Fellove. He watches the act from the wings. Fico also checks out some of the more notable guests. Later Fico attends a wedding anniversary for his father and mother.
These are difficult times for Cuba. Don Federico Fellove comments: "Our country isnít safe anymore." Fico is not interested in changing Cuba. But his two brothers certainly are. The youngest brother, Ricardo, is the most radical and is thinking strongly of heading out to the Sierra Madres to fight alongside Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. The other brother, Luis, also supports a form of revolution, but one much more moderate than that of brother Ricardo. Don Federico offers a toast to the hope that they will always put family first.
Don Federico wrote a speech for one of the Cuban senators. It is very critical of the government in Cuba.
Ricardo is picked up by Col. Candela, a name associated with death. He is beaten up and taken to jail. What the Colonel wants to know is the name of the man behind the name of Peligro. The Colonel has his assistant shoot the man being interrogated when he does not reveal the identity of Peligro. The Colonel says to Ricardo: "Youíre next!"
Fico heads over to the jail to get his brother out. He runs into Captain Castel, an old friend. He asks the Captain to get his brother out. Not long afterwards, Ricardo is released. He tells Fico that he is heading to the Sierra Madres.
An American known only as the Writer pays a visit to Fico at the night club. He says that Al (?) sent him and that he is a stand-up comedian. His interview is interrupted by the arrival of the Mafia mobster Meyer Lansky and an associate. Lansky has an offer for Fico Ė a business opportunity in which the house will get 20% percent of the profit and Lansky will get 80% percent. Fico says: "I have to pass." Lansky says he hopes to hear some good news from Fico very soon. He and his gunman leave.
Aurora Fellove, Luisís wife, speaks with Fico. She cries and tells him that Luis has another woman. He hasnít been home for two days. He called but only to say heís o.k. Fico promises her that he is going to take care of the matter.
Fico tracks Luis down. He explains to Luis that his wife is very worried about him. Another woman? Yes, says Luis: "Liberty." He says that his group supports the resurrection of the 1940 Cuban constitution. Luis says that Castro cannot be trusted. He then aks Fico, if anything should happen to him, would he look after Aurora? Fico says yes.
Ricardo, out in the mountains, runs into Che Guevara and his small group of troops. The infamous leader asks Ricardo if he is the night club dancer. (No, thatís brother Fico.) Ricardo joins up with Che.
Fico tells Aurora that Luis is not chasing after another woman. He just doesnít want the family to be involved in what he is doing. Aurora tells Fico that as Luisís wife, she has the right to be involved.
An explosion goes off in Ficoís night club. The female dancer that he was very fond of is killed. Fico blames the Mafia and Lansky for the explosion, but he canít really be certain.
The news is that revolutionaries are going to attack the Presidential Palace. We find out that Peligro is actually Luis Fellove. Luis give the order: "Itís time!" The signal for the start of the action was the message that the bird (meaning President Batista) is in the cage (meaning the Presidential Palace). Luis drives up in a delivery truck and engages the guards in a discussion of a delivery problem. While talking, he pulls out a gun and starts shooting. He himself kills three guards. The attack begins.
Batista wonders what the noise is that he heard. The revolutionaries get into the Palace. Fico learns that the Palace is being attacked. The group is the Directorio revolutionario. It is reported that the President has been eliminated. The army attacks the radio station broadcasting the above news. They kill the radio broadcaster.
Luis gets away as the counterattack begins to win the skirmish. The President speaks on Cuban television to the people of the nation. The Colonel and his men find Luis and a shoot-out begins. Two of Luisís men are killed. Luis runs out of bullets. He tries to sneak up on the Colonelís main assistant, but the gunman catches Luis from behind and breaks his neck.
A funeral for Luis is held. Fico is there to comfort Aurora. He also comforts his father and mother. Fico goes to his desk and takes out two revolvers. He wants revenge on the killers of his brother.
Fico finds the Colonel at dinner. He is searched for weapons and a weapon is taken from him. The Colonel asks Fico: "Whatís a song and dance man doing with a 32 caliber Smith and Wesson?" Fico deflects the question. The Colonel then asks about Ricardo. Fico doesnít know anything. The Colonel then explains that Luis was the infamous Peligro, but now Luis has committed suicide. At this moment, Fico pulls the other revolver on the Colonel. But instead of firing, he puts the pistol on the table and leaves.
Aurora is very lonely. She has no family of her own. Ficoís mother asks him to please take Aurora out on the town. She thinks that Aurora needs him and he needs Aurora.
One day Aurora and Fico play the piano. He tells her what Luis said to him about taking care of her. He then asks her to come out with him tomorrow. She smiles. On the date Fico takes Aurora to a night club.
A firefight breaks out. Che and his men ambush a jeep and an army truck. Che explains to Ricardo that the end justifies the means in the movement.
Fico and Aurora go out again. Aurora dances with Ficoís uncle out at the beach. The couple are going out a lot now.
A special news reports says that the University of Havana is closed today. This was due to heavy demonstrations against the government.
Fico and Aurora celebrate Happy New Year 1959. While they celebrate Batista arrives at the airport. He is going into exile. At the night club, the announcer tells everyone: "Batista has left the country!" Fico and Aurora kiss.
In the street people are destroying the slot machines from the gambling night clubs. People shout: "Fidel! Fidel!" Fico and Aurora try their best to avoid these crowds.
Aurora tells Fico she is truly happy and loves Fico. She had a dream, she says, that Luis told her it was o.k. Fico tells Aurora that he loves her. At night they kiss.
January 9, 1959. Fidel Castro enters Havana. Everybody seems so happy. And then the many executions begin. Fico has a good friend, Captain Castel, in prison and he asks Ricardo, who is close to Che and Fidel, for help in getting him released. Ricardo stalls for time, so Fico demands that he take him to the "cage". Fico sees a Captain that has been badly beaten. Ricardo tells the Captain: "You donít look so tough now."
Fico grows tired of waiting for Castel to be released. He gets an appointment with Che and goes in to see him. Che tells him that Castel was executed this very morning. Fico is shocked and devastated. Che tells him to go back to his cabaret and continue entertaining the rich.
Fico has to tone down the night club act for the new government. The head dancer retrains the girls for other routines. Then a woman in an army uniform and armed with a pistol enters the night club to tell Fico that the union owns the orchestra and the government controls the union. Therefore, Fico cannot use the saxophone in the orchestra, because it is an instrument of the imperialists. Fico objects strenuously, but to little effect. If Fico doesnít get rid of the saxophone, she will stop the show.
Fico seeks support from Aurora, but she seems more on the side of the government. She says that at least they wonít have to deal with Meyer Lansky anymore.
Fico and Aurora eat breakfast at a beach front restaurant. An army jeep pulls up and Castro himself gets out. Aurora tells Fico that she really wants to meet the famous man. She wants to speak with him and she wants Fico to introduce her. Fico refuses so Aurora goes and introduces herself. When she returns she tells Fico that Castro has invited them to breakfast. Fico wants no part of that. Rather he wants to leave with Aurora. But Aurora refuses to leaves. She stays, Fico leaves.
Aurora has become almost an overnight success with the Castro boys. Mother Fellove watches as Aurora is picked up by a government car. In the paper the headline says that Aurora has been named the comrade widow of the revolution for the year.
Aurora calls Fico. She says that he has not called her for quite awhile. Fico says he has been too busy with work. Aurora then invites him to a little celebration in her honor and says she hopes he will be there. She says: "I love you."
Fico is informed that the government is closing down his night club because a couple of the workers were caught gambling. And gambling is held to be a dangerous distraction to the masses. Fico is outraged.
Ricardo visits his uncle at his shade tobacco fields. Uncle tells Ricardo that once he dies this will be all his. But Ricardo informs him that the land belongs to the revolution. And whatís more, Fidel Castro personally sent him to evict Uncle from the land. Uncle is outraged and starts denouncing his nephew. He tells Ricardo: "Let them try and take it!" He is so mad and upset that he has a heart attack. Ricardo tries to save him but knows little first aid. He runs for help. Uncle dies in his own fields.
Fico visits his father and says that he is sorry about Uncle. Ricardo will have to live with the consequences of his actions, says Fico. Dad thanks Fico for coming, but then tells him that mother and he think that he should leave Cuba now. Fico says he is staying. But Dad keeps pushing Fico to recognize that it is time to go.
At Uncleís funeral, Ricardo makes a brief appearance and then runs out. Fico follows after him. Later the family express their outrage at Ricardoís behavior. His wife sticks her head through the door, sees Ricardo and quickly closes the door. Dad tells Ricardo: "You are lost, my son!" Fico slaps his brother.
Aurora goes to see the Castroites again. Fico watches her from his red convertible.
Ricardo returns to Uncleís shade tobacco fields. There he shoots himself to death.
Fico decides to go to New York City. He goes to speak with Aurora. They hug. Fico explains that he has an exit visa and he is leaving the country. He wants her to come with him. But Aurora says: "I have a duty to my country." Fico replies: "Luis died for Cuba, not Fidel!" Aurora says she has the feeling that she is helping to fight the just cause of her people. She asks Fico to please stay. Fico, getting a bit desperate, grabs Auroraís arm and tries to make her go with him, but she just goes into the party for the government operatives.
Che sees Fico at the party and asks him if he has something to say. Fico, looking up at Castro on a balcony, toasts to Luis, who died for a dream of a pluralistic and democratic Cuba. "Long live a free Cuba!" Castro approves of that and says: "Long live a free Cuba!"
Again Fico tries to get Aurora to go with him. And again he fails. He will have to leave without her. But before he leaves, he gives Aurora her exit visa and tells her that he is leaving from the airport at 5 p.m. She walks away as he leaves.
Fico says his good-byes to his mother and father and his sister-in-law. Dad gives him a pocket watch and tells Fico not to worry about them. As Fico leaves he tells the family that he will send for them as soon as he can. At home, Aurora cries.
At the airport the guard makes Fico leave anything of value behind, including money, rings, the pocket watch, everything.
Aurora never shows up.
In New York City Fico works in a hotel washing dishes and cleaning floors. One day the Writer shows up at the hotel. The two have a good talk.
Later the boss offers Fico a job playing piano in the hotel restaurant. Fico is happy at the promotion, but wants to keep his old job too. The boss agrees. Fico then asks the Writer about the two of them working together. The Writer is interested.
Meyer Lansky shows up to speak with Fico. He tells Fico that he did not bomb his night club: "Thatís not my style!" But he is opening up a new night club in Las Vegas and he wants Fico to run it for him. Lansky tells Fico to think about it and then leaves.
One day Aurora shows up at the hotel restaurant. She is in town with the Cuban delegation to the United Nations. Tears well up in her eyes. She wants Fico to come back to Cuba, but Fico tells her that would be very bad for his soul. Aurora asks him to please not hate her. He tells her that he will always love her. They hug. She leaves.
Fifteen months later Ficoís El Tropico - New York opened to a sell-out crowd.
Good movie, but a bit long. I didnít think much of the love story part of the movie, but it did keep my interest. Fico certainly didnít know Aurora that well if he didnít have some sense of her true political beliefs. The movie was, of course, anti-Castro, but it was not preachy in style. And we see the pain of Fico as he is pulled by his love for Cuba, his disgust with Castro and his need for liberty and freedom.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
See Havana (1990) .
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