The Cuban started life as a short film script. But when they couldn’t get the money to shoot it they expanded it to a feature and crowdfunded to get started. Then they found out that Oscar winner Lou Gossett Jr. (An Officer and a Gentleman) had already read the script and they were off and running. It’s the story of the relationship between Luis (Gossett), an elderly Cuban musician suffering from Alzheimer’s who’s languishing in a nursing home, and Mina (Ana Golja), a young, headstrong pre-med student, who brings him back to life though the power of music. It’s a fairly predictable story, but well-done and ultimately heart-warming.
Mina is an Afghani immigrant who’s living with her Aunt (Shohreh Aghdashloo – Academy Award nominee for House of Sand and Fog), while going to school. She’s working in the nursing home on the side and is asked to take care of Luis who is locked in his shell. But when she starts humming a song while she’s in the room, he responds. And soon she’s bringing in jazz records and discovers that he was once a famous Cuban jazz musician. And Luis begins to live again, while Mina rediscovers her own love of singing. Meanwhile, her Aunt is trying to keep her on her career path, as well as the Afghan husband in your future track (there is a non-Afghan love interest), but the center of the film, and where it shines is with Mina’s interactions with Luis.
If anything, The Cuban makes you yearn for a good meaty role for Lou Gossett Jr. to sink his teeth into. When the story moves away from him, it lags a bit. Not that it’s slow, it’s just the Gosseett sets the bar pretty high for embodying his character. The other high note for the film is the soundtrack, which is a ton of fun, especially if you’re into Cuban jazz. Bottom line: The Cuban is pleasant buddy flick with an immigrant subplot and a lesson about staying true to your passions.