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Wednesday, May 4 2016

If the logline "young hairdresser in Havana dreams of becoming a drag performer" sounds like a movie that was made during the queer film renaissance of the 1990s, that's because Paddy Breathnach's Viva hits many familiar beats. Jesus (Héctor Medina) works as a hairdresser for clients and at a drag club where he does indeed hope to become a professional female impersonator as well — because it's who he is, and because one of his only other options is sex work. His already precarious life is thrown into disarray with the sudden return of his vanished father Angel (Jorge Perugorría), a former boxer, chronic drunk, and all-around boor who would rather his son sleep with men for money than wear a dress. To Viva's credit, it doesn't waste any time getting to the main conflict; Angel knows from the start that his son is queer. But except for the character of maternal club owner Mama (Luis Alberto García), the drag aspect never really feels like it has a point other than as something for Angel to push against beyond his son just not being a macho asshole like himself —and to occasionally shock the straights, including an early full-frontal peen shot. Viva doesn't say anything new, but what it says isn't bad, either.


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Sherilyn Connelly


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