The Cuban

Movie review by
Stephanie Myers, Common Sense Media
The Cuban Movie Poster Image
Heartwarming friendship story has some language, drinking.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 109 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Stands out for positive messages.

Positive Messages

Treat everyone with dignity and kindness. Make time to listen and be there for older people. Stand up for what you think is right. Be open to accepting help from others and getting support when needed.

Positive Role Models

Though Mina may not be the perfect role model, she does try to do what's right. She makes friends with Luis when she could have just done her job without anything more than idle conversation. She's empathetic to his condition and does what she can to help Luis enjoy life and find happiness again. Mina's boyfriend Kris is also a positive role model in that he supported Mina when she needed it. Characters are diverse in several ways, including age, culture, and ethnicity.

Violence

While in the nursing home, Luis screams and struggles when medical personnel try to take his blood pressure. During a visit to a night club, Luis gets disoriented and pushes and shoves Kris.

Sex

Mina and Kris share kisses and undress in front of a bed. They continue to kiss while partially clothed on the bed. Theyre then shown covered with blankets, bare shouldered, and lying in bed next to each other smiling, implying that they had sex. 

Language

Mina says "s--t" several times, Kris says "f--ked up" twice. Luis gives a nurse the middle finger and swipes under his chin.

Consumerism

Tropicana Club and The Cotton Club are mentioned in dialog

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

People at a night club drink and smoke. Kris drinks a beer in one scene. Luis is in recovery from a dependency on alcohol. In another scene, viewers learn that Luis was given medication from a doctor to help with his outbursts, but it made him unresponsive and unable to control his bladder.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Cuban explores the emotions and struggles that elderly people and caregivers may encounter when dealing with dementia. One of the main themes is treating the elderly with compassion and dignity and understanding that they still have a voice. Main character Luis Garcia (Louis Gossett Jr.) is sometimes unable to distinguish between the past and the present and lashes out due to his confusion. These moments -- and other scenes that show seemingly disoriented patients -- may be upsetting for families and younger viewers with relatives who have dementia or Alzheimer's disease. While the movie does not overtly discuss religion, several of the characters talk about being members of a mosque, and one scene shows two characters attending a prayer session. Luis' caregiver, Mina (Ana Golja) lives with her aunt (Shohreh Aghdashloo) who, it's implied, left Afghanistan because she was in a relationship with another woman. The two women have a somewhat strenuous relationship with respect to their Muslim culture, dating, and Mina's career choice. Mina's cousin is forced to break up with her non-Muslim boyfriend and partake in an arranged marriage with no input about how she feels. A few scenes show characters drinking and smoking, one sequence implies sex between Mina and her boyfriend, and infrequent language includes "s--t" and "f--ked up."

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What's the story?

THE CUBAN is about Mina (Ana Golja) a 19-year-old pre-med student from Afghanistan, who, while working at a nursing home, meets and befriends Luis Garcia (Louis Gossett Jr.), who suffers from dementia. Mina learns that Luis used to be a famous Cuban jazz musician in the 1960s and starts bringing in old records that her grandfather (a music professor and jazz lover) gave her. Luis responds to the music and begins telling Mina a little about his past as a musician. Mina lives with her Bano (Aunt) Ayoub (Shohreh Aghdashloo), who gave up her career as a doctor when she left Afghanistan and now works at the nursing home as an administrator. Mina meets a graduate student named Kris (Giacomo Gianniotti), and they start dating. With Kris' help, Mina learns more about Luis' past and his time in Cuba. Though Mina and Luis are from different cultures and different generations, their love of music connects them, offering the message that music spans all ages and cultures and can be both therapeutic and comforting.

Is it any good?

This is a sweet, enjoyable drama that scratches the surface of how the elderly are sometimes viewed and treated when suffering from dementia and other ailments. The Cuban also lightly touches on immigration and cultural traditions but doesn't provide much depth on those subjects. For example, Mina's cousin has an arranged marriage, but that storyline is never developed or given any priority. And the relationship between Mina and Bano Ayoub is a little predictable. It's also casually mentioned that Ayoub may have been in a relationship with another woman back in Afghanistan, but that issue is only addressed twice and provides just a glimmer of insight about why she doesn't attend a mosque. We also learn that Luis has a son who doesn't like him much because Luis was dependent on alcohol and abandoned his family, but Luis' relationship with his family isn't discussed beyond that.

What the film does do well is explore how, sometimes, the elderly get overlooked and ignored -- and how showing them compassion, empathy, and kindness can make a huge impact. The movie also does an excellent job of incorporating music throughout, showing that music really can bring people from all walks of life together. Bottom line? The Cuban will make you want to get up and start dancing.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how The Cuban deas with dementia and the overall treatment of the elderly. How does memory loss affect not just the person with dementia, but also their loved ones and friends?

  • How does music affect the characters' moods? How does music affect your own mood?

  • How do the characters react to their parents/caregivers in the film, and how does that affect their relationships?

  • Why do you think Mina thought it was important to break the rules concerning Luis' meals? When might it be OK to not follow the rules?

Movie details

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