Saturday's discovery was a little gem of a film, a bright and breezy romance from Cuba called The Waiting List. Directed by Juan Carlos Tabio, based on a story by Arturo Arango, The Waiting List takes place at a bus station in the middle of Cuba and is filled with characters waiting to go somewhere else. It is a true ensemble character-driven film pulled off with a solid script and firmly keeled direction.
Many of the actors were seen before in Tabio's Strawberries and Chocolate but the characters who congregate at the bus station are unique. In the center are the young lovers played by Vladimir Cruz (an Antonio Bandaras look-alike, but more vulnerable) and Thaimi Alvarino, and they are surrounded by the blind man who isn't, the mother who hedges her bets on everything down to naming her son Vladimir Jesus, the gruff station manager and the ticket seller who sees nothing ironic in 16 people getting off and only one seat now being available, or the comment that follows every announcement of each delay – "Thank you for choosing us for your transportation needs." Needless to say there is no transportation, at least not at this bus station, and as it changes from a run-down stop over to a Rousseau-inspired feast for the eyes through imagination and team work, the best and worst is brought out in each of the characters.
Metaphors for the possibilities and the failures of socialism quaff throughout with good humor and a delicate touch. Even the title (Lista de Espera /The Waiting List) entices with the contradictions ahead – in Spanish, Espera means to wait as well as to hope.
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