Viva (2015)

Viva (2015)

An emotional and complex coming of age and coming out drama set in Havana's drag scene

7.7

Movie

Cuba, Ireland
Spanish
Drama
2015
PADDY BREATHNACH
Héctor Medina, Jorge Perugorría, Laura Aleman
100 min

TLDR

You should always look for the truth in drag bars.

What it's about

Just as Jesus has found the courage to try performing in the drag club he works as a hairdresser at, his estranged father comes back to make demands.

The take

Shrooms director Paddy Breathnach has als dipped his toes in romcoms and thrillers, but this queer Bogota-set drama has a lot of tenderness in its heart. Micro-budget and full of life as the name suggests, Viva is an inspiring story that centers around Jesus (Héctor Medina) and his own individuation. A hairdresser with the talent of a drag performer, he assumes the role of Viva in the weekend cabaret. As warm and open as his father is detached and somber, Jesus is a likeable protagonist with the vulnerability and dedication to follow his dream, that no wonder the film made the Oscar shortlist in 2016.

What stands out

From backstage to front and center, Jesus shows he can really "make it" only upon his second try. The first performance in front of a live audience is disastrous, but the scene that really illuminates Medina's acting efforts here is also the first time Viva truly comes alive on stage. Dispensing with the fear of being-looked-at, Jesus becomes Viva and he is transformed. Her gaze is stern, she enjoys holding it as she walks towards you, singing, fluffing her feather scarf to the music. She moves differently, no traces left from the awkward stumbling a few minutes ago; no, Viva is in control of her body and her surroundings in a grip so tight it makes it hard to look away. The stage will do that to you, but only if you already got it in you...

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