Carlos Acosta in feature film debut | The Day of the Flowers
Gorgeous, gorgeous authentic Cuban music percolates through the speakers, performed by A Band Apart (El dia de las flores session). British made (and funded) The Day of the Flowers follows two Scottish sisters leading very disparate lives but with a clue to follow, as they roar off to the airport in a vintage white Mini Cooper bound for Cuba, where their parents had spent many happy years in the 70’s. The Instagram-style vintage opening titles, superbly designed by Richard Morrison, also feature some British Pathé footage.
Acosta, who makes his feature film debut (he had a small part in a Natalie Portman directed film short, New York, I Love You), plays a ballet teacher who has to pay his way as a tourist guide, Tomas. There is one ballet scene, where Acosta is predictably at his most authoritative, but this is not a film about his dancing; it’s his acting that is on display here. In many ways, Cuba is the scene-stealer with its verdant rural landscapes in shades of olive, lime, mint and pistachio and dilapidated but beautiful buildings painted in rich tropical colours of aqua and vermillion, contrasting perfectly with a humming, contagious city life. Most of the film is shot in Cuba but it’s not all sepia-tinged happiness. As a tour guide Acosta runs into the sisters who have got themselves into hot water as soon as they land in Cuba and miss the bus from the airport. He believes in letting them learn from their own mistakes, but he’s the good guy who’s there to pick up the (inevitable) pieces. Eva Birthistle plays Rosa (independent, takes herself a bit too seriously) and Charity Wakefield is Ailie (ditsy, to a point, but no walk-over and the owner of the afore-mentioned Mini).
When Rosa is backed into a corner in a club and asks Tomas to dance – well – she bites off way more than she can chew. Obviously, the boy can dance. The whole of Cuba can dance ! But can Rosa ?
This being a romantic drama, Rosa’s single-mindedness pulls her towards danger on the way to releasing her father’s ashes on The day of the Flowers. She’s a fast learner, though. There’s a quite hilarious scene where Rosa breaks with tradition and wears a dress (never been seen before) and then shoes she can’t walk in. Enter Acosta, who has an inherent stillness which lends itself to the mood; rich and generously colourful without being in any way overdone.
Day of the Flowers is a charming film, lovingly shot and acted by the leads. It sets a fair pace from the start and a good balance between action and dialogue so you’re engaged all the way through. Before you know it you’ll be on the next plane to Cuba, though I can’t promise Acosta as your guide !
Day of the Flowers receives it’s world premiere the Edinburgh Film festival on 25th June and the UK release will be later in the year.
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