Movie Review For Magnolia Pictures Award Winning Film, VIVA!
Nominated for numerous awards, including Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, Irish Film and Television Awards, and the Palm Springs International Film Festival, and being featured at both the Sundance and Teluride Film Festivals of 2016, Viva is an incredibly inspiring work of film that tells the story of a young man and his struggle to find his place in life after years of being alone and feeling ashamed of who he was.
Héctor Medina stars as Jesus, a hairdresser for a popular drag show outfit in Havana, Cuba who longs to perform on stage. When a spot opens for a new singer, Jesus auditions for the role and is given a chance to fill the vacancy. After a few bad performances, he begins to find his own voice in life through his stage character, Viva. Jesus’ journey takes a step sideways when, after being absent for decades, Jesus’ father, Angel, played by Jorge Perugorría, returns to try to fix his parenting mistakes, which includes trying to be a father to Jesus all over again. Angel forbids his son from performing, and initially Jesus agrees, out of pure desperation for some kind of family and stability. Through a series of conflicts with Angel, Jesus finds the courage to stand up for himself and his lifestyle to his father who eventually comes around and gives his son his blessing to be whomever he wants in life. Of course, life being what it is, tragedy again strikes the aspiring star and he is left with a deep void to fill, one that soon brings new meaning and hope to Jesus’ life.
Beautifully shot, with outstanding performances by the entire cast, Viva is a feast for the eyes, ears, and the very soul of a viewer. I would highly recommend this movie to anyone, but it will certainly hit home with those who have been made to feel like social outcasts or ashamed at who they are or where they’re at in life. This movie gives hope.
Directed by Paddy Breathnach
Starring Héctor Medina, Jorge Perugorría, Luis Alberto García
Photo courtesy of VIVA Official Movie Site