Review: Papa Hemingway in Cuba, C
Rated R, 109 minutes
Ernest Hemingway was one of the most intriguing and respected authors of the 20th Century, who had a real talent for telling a great story. Papa Hemingway, as was his nickname to those close to him, who would likely be disappointed in the dull film, "Papa Hemingway in Cuba," that bears his name. It has a few bright spots, but finding your literary voice, even with the help of a legendary author, has never been more boring. The movie tells the true-life story of a young journalist who finds a father figure in Hemingway. Their relationship began in the late 1950's when Ed Petitclerc (Giovanni Ribisi), then a junior reporter at The Miami Herald, wrote a fan letter to his idol (Adrian Sparks). Hemingway invites Ed to his estate in Cuba, where he becomes a part of the extended family of he and his fourth wife Mary (Joely Richardson), and helps the young writer develop his literary voice in the midst of the Cuban Revolution. Directed by long-time film producer Bob Yari on a screenplay by the late Petitclerc (who died in 2006), the lackluster "Papa Hemingway in Cuba" is the first movie to be filmed on location in Cuba since the 1959 Cuban Revolution, and those lovely locals are the most memorable thing about the tedious film, which unlike Hemingway's novels, is a bit of a slog, and ironically, the Revolution seems an afterthought here. As well, the movie has no clear insight into Hemingway himself, here portrayed by British actor Sparks ("The Purge: Anarchy") as a helpful grandpa type rather than the troubled artist he supposedly was. Instead, the movie is more concerned about a young author (called "the kid" here by Hemingway and his wife) finding his way, and the likable Ribisi, while appealing, isn't strong enough actor to carry the movie, and when Hemingway wants to sort of "adopt" Petitclerc, it's more creepy than inspiring. In addition to the lovely Cuban locals, Richardson is a beautiful addition to the film, too bad she isn't given much to do. For something far more memorable, ditch the sluggish "Papa Hemingway in Cuba," and read a Hemingway novel, or do something that Hemingway would've done, like go fishing.