Review: In love with Cuba (2019)


Director: Johan Nijenhuis | 105 minutes | comedy, drama, romance | Actors: Susan Visser, Abbey Hoes, Rolf Sanchez, Jan Kooijman, Maaike Martens, Tjebbo Gerritsma, Niek Roozen, Maarten Dannenberg, Anouk Maas, Mareya Salazar, Barbara Sloesen, Nick Vorsselman

Nowadays you are cast in the new film by Johan Nijenhuis, then you can almost ingest poison that you are going to a distant country for the recordings. After Las Vegas (“Our boys”), Ibiza (“In love with Ibiza”) and Italy (“Tuscan wedding”), the successful Dutch director opted for an even more exotic destination: the island of Cuba.

“In love with Cuba” is about the divorced Loes (Susan Visser). Now that her son and daughter are virtually independent, she is struggling to give meaning to her life. So she continues – because she cannot do otherwise – to meddle in the lives of her children as much as possible. She especially can’t let go of her daughter Maartje (Abbey Hoes), even though the young woman lives thousands of kilometers away from her in Cuba, as soon as the good news comes in that she has finally been admitted to the study of medicine, for which she was previously excluded twice. , for Loes the whole story is in pitchers and jugs. What is her surprise that Maartje herself has very different plans for the future: she is going to marry a Cuban!

Loes storms to her ex-husband Alex (Tjebbo Gerritsma), who has now taken a new direction with his girlfriend Machteld (Maaike Martens). Alex has long heard of Maartje’s intention and already has the plane tickets in his pocket. Loes then also decides that flying to Cuba is the only option to change Maartje’s mind. No sooner said than done.

But of course everything is different in Cuba. The Dutch have to get used to the pace, the language, the customs, the hygiene and especially the flirtation. Loes, son Hein and Maartje experience this firsthand. And so Maartje – partly thanks to the interference of her well-meaning, but oh so wrong-acting mother, starts to doubt. In the meantime, Loes is very charmed by Maartje’s Dutch neighbor, Juan (Jan Kooijman) and vice versa. But it is also very nice with Alex now and then. Does the flame between the ex-lovers flare up again, does Loes find a new love in the last place she expected and does Maartje waste her future?

You already understand: “In love with Cuba” doesn’t demand much from the viewer. It is such a film that you can easily look away without having to worry about whether it will work out and whether the characters ultimately make the right choices. The makers drop enough hints in the run-up to know how this film ends. However, thanks to the solid cast, the wafer-thin story is quite entertaining. Of course, the jokes are usually not very clever (although a liposuction does end in a funny incident). In addition, the prejudices surrounding Cuban culture are well over the top (as a Cuban production in the Netherlands would probably be about mills and people on clogs). What does this film do to its credit is that it pays attention to gender diversity without emphasizing it. It is mentioned in passing, but is not a hot topic. “In love with Cuba” is skilfully made, but does not linger long. But that was never the intention of this film.

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