Papa: Hemingway in Cuba

At the Movies Blog
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This is the first U.S. movie filmed in Havana since the ‘50s. The visuals were nice, but not much else was. It’s the second feature directed by long-time producer Bob Yari.

It’s based on the writing of real journalist Ed Myers (played by Giovanni Ribisi), who wrote a fan letter to Ernest Hemingway in the late ‘50s, and after hanging out with him in the final few months of Hemingway’s life, wrote this screenplay about it. That means lots of fishing, drinking, and photos with fans.

As much as Hemingway praises the letter, the viewer won’t be impressed with the dialogue in this film. It felt like somebody writing Hemingway’s dialogue in a way that he wrote. It was one of the problems I had with the movie about The Doors. Oliver Stone had Jim Morrison talking to people with Doors lyrics. Nobody in real life does this. I mean…do we think Paul McCartney says, when the doorbell rings, “Somebody’s knocking on the door. Somebody ringin’ the bell.” ?

Hemingway is played well by stage actor Adrian Sparks, although he and Ribisi don’t have the best chemistry.

Joely Richardson plays wife Mary, and she has a few interesting scenes.

This is probably a story that was better suited for a magazine article on this journalist’s trip to Cuba.

There’s another story involving Myers relationship with a colleague (the gorgeous Minka Kelly). It’s just hard to believe that, as beautiful as she is, he seems to only have eyes for Papa.

It would’ve been nice to see more of Cuba, and less shots of typewriters, and less scenes of an angry Hemingway waving a gun around. It made the whole picture feel forced. It became a plodding biopic that goes down the usual paths of a genius in decline, and the young man idolizing him.

It needed stronger dialogue, and more beautiful shots of Havana.

This is strictly for the Hemingway buffs.

It gets 1 ½ stars out of 5.

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