Among Hollywoodized glosses on the Cuban revolution, if Sydney Pollack's Havana was a tracing from Casablanca, Andy Garcia's City stylistically revisits The Godfather, complete with multi-scions-in-tuxes dynasty, formal translated-to-English patois, deep umber shadows, concerns about "respect," meetings with sly Jews (Dustin Hoffman as an inscrutable Meyer Lansky), even an old-timer (Richard Bradford) having a coronary in a sunny garden. In turnaround for two decades or so, Garcia's pet project (written by the late novelist and critic Guillermo Cabrera Infante) focuses first on three upper-class brothers (Garcia, Nestor Carbonell, Enrique Murciano) as the 1959 usurpation looms; then it falls into a long, moony romantic abyss involving a "widow of the revolution" (Inés Sastre).
Sastre and Garcia before the revolution.
For no apparent reason, Bill Murray (playing a nameless American comedian or something) inhabits the margins like a non sequitur Greek chorus. Staged with credibility and loads of Cubano flair, the film slows to a sludgy crawl, giving us lots of time to consider it as a pro-old-guard, antirevolutionary elegy. Like a rumba-inflected Gone With the Wind, Garcia's tale bemoans the loss of easy wealth for a precious few. Poor people are absolutely absent; Garcia and Infante seem to have thought that peasant revolutions happen for no particular reason—or at least no reason the moneyed 1 percent should have to worry about.