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Viaje extraordinario de Celeste García, El

Viaje extraordinario de Celeste García, El (2018) Movie Poster
Cuba / Germany  •    •  92m  •    •  Directed by: Arturo Infante.  •  Starring: María Isabel Díaz Lago, Omar Franco, Néstor Jiménez, Yerlín Pérez, Tamara Castellanos, Veronica Diaz, Roberto Espinosa, Reinier Díaz, Andrea Doimeadiós, Beatriz Viña.  •  Music by: Magda Rosa Galban, Juan Antonio Leyva.
Celeste is a widow living a tranquil, unadventurous existence in Havana, fulfilling her daily shifts as a tour guide at the local planetarium. One day when several ''Cubans'' mysteriously vanish into thin air, the government announces that aliens have been living in Cuban society disguised as humans, and that these foreign guests are now returning the favor by inviting humans to visit their far-away world. It all makes perfect sense to Celeste - she had always thought that her ''Russian'' neighbor Pauline was eccentric, but now learns she was truly from another planet. Celeste discovers that Pauline has left her a personal invitation to join her and joins the government preparation program to journey to the far unknown.


Saw this at fhe Film Festival Munich 2019 (in German: Film Fest München). This movie can easily be considered a vehicle for politicalsocial commentary, rather than telling us anything about extraterrestrial worlds or civilizations. It can be deemed a spoiler, when I say that Celeste does not leave earth for any moment.

After a (too long) introduction to familiarize us with her family and work, we see the whole journey to the designated collection place for the take-off to another planet. As flies-on-the-wall we observe how everyone interacts with each other while waiting several days on something that no one is very sure about what to expect. We also meet people who were not chosen but still want a free ride to the planet, and their sneaky approach to achieve their goal.

Even more important, I think, is the interaction with the guards who try to smooth the emigration process and to control the undisciplined crowd. We see uniformed people, obviously power hungry and self-aware of their assumed importance, presumably showcasing the average civil servant or military. This is Cuba, and the movie lets us see some of it, how it functions and how people behave there. The story serves very well its purpose as a vehicle for social commentary.

The director made remarks in that direction in the Q&A, but I was not sure his express intention to put the guards under a magnifying glass. He especially mentioned the whistles that the chief guard consistenly uses to make clear that she had something to "say". I even heard her use the word "comrade", something that reminds me of earlier communist times. It made me wonder whether that word indeed survived recent developments in Cuba, or that it is only used by said power hungry people to enforce a situation in which they think to have the upper hand.

Insightful as it may be, the story is full of noise and not very well organized, throwing protagonists on us without making clear why (or if, or how) they are important for future developments. Maybe I should not have worried about this, merely enjoying the couleur locale and the way these people behave in their normal habitat (home, work) and later in an abnormal situation (waiting at the pickup point). But the first impression counts, leaving me with mixed feelings about how well the film makers succeeded in their goal of packaging politicalsocial commentary in a story that can be seen by a wide audience. There are no gadgets, no aliens, just normal people thrown in a not-so-normal situation.

Review by JvH48 from the Internet Movie Database.