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Bitter Sugar
Bitter Sugar
Actors: René Lavan, Mayte Vilán, Miguel Gutierrez, Larry Villanueva, Luis Celeiro
Director: Leon Ichaso
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
NR     2001     1hr 15min

In what may be the angriest portrait of Cuba ever made, director Leon Ichaso (Crossover Dreams) charts the journey of one young man from patriot to disillusioned dropout to angry rebel. Gustavo (René Lavan) is an idealist...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: René Lavan, Mayte Vilán, Miguel Gutierrez, Larry Villanueva, Luis Celeiro
Director: Leon Ichaso
Creators: Orestes Matacena, Leon Ichaso, Claudio Chea, Jaime Pina, Julio Carillo, Pelayo García
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Love & Romance
Studio: New Yorker Video
Format: DVD - Black and White - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 02/27/2001
Original Release Date: 01/01/1996
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1996
Release Year: 2001
Run Time: 1hr 15min
Screens: Black and White
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: Spanish, Spanish
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

A Great Film
Cubano | USA | 06/12/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is truly an excellent film. It will make you laugh and cry. If you were born in the island, like I was, then it will hit home. This is the truth about Cuba. I am 28 years old and I lived it. All of those reviewers that are telling you otherwise are full of it. For the one reviewer that praised the Cuban government for allowing this film to be filmed in Cuba, get a little bit more informed. You seem to be as misinformed about this as the reality of the Cuban life and government. The film was filmed in the Dominican Republic. Castro's totalitarian regime would never have allowed this type of film to be filmed in Cuba. Some real footage were purchased and are from within the island."
Shouldn't be missed
Alejandra Vernon | Long Beach, California | 10/02/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Tender, heartwrenching, and very romantic, this film is amazing, and will give a better understanding of Cuba and its people.This tragic love affair, set against the politics of repression is a story one won't forget...made vivid by the magnificent black and white cinematography and a marvelous soundtrack.The acting by everyone is superb, and the two leads, Mayte Vilan and Rene Lavan, utterly gorgeous. Miguel Guitierrez is so moving in the beautifully written part of the father.This is truly a wonderful film, and makes me so appreciative of the freedom I live in."
Bitter Sugar Depicts Our Bitter Truth
Carlos E Vazquez | Houston, TX | 03/15/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"As a Cuban American who came to this country at the age of 12, I was delighted to find a movie which so accurately depicts what my country is going through. Bitter Sugar is a love story, but it is more than that. It is the cinematic cliff notes of the 4-decade long suffering of a people. Anyone who has come from a Communist country will truly appreciate this film. Those of you who have not should make Bitter Sugar required viewing. I strongly encourage you to do so."
Cuba's Notorious Legacy
WritergirlFL | Florida | 03/27/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This movie is a poignant look at modern Cuba and the continuance of the disparity and the opposition to basic freedoms in Cuba.
Rene Lavan, known for his stint in tv, and now for Dirty Dancing 2 and Christmas with the Kranks, is stellar as man who has awakened from the dream of equanimity to a nightmare of injustice.

Rene plays Gustavo, a young revolutionary who has received a scholarship to study in Prague. His father, a mediocre psychiatrist, tries to keep his family afloat with humor and cliches about the revolution.

Gustavo's brother Bobby, a protester by day and a rocker by night, and ironically wearing a Che Guevara shirt, takes matters into his own hands. After being mercilessly beaten, he and his friends decide to inject themselves with AIDS-contaminated blood, giving new meaning to the saying, "Give me Liberty or Give me Death."

Gustavo's girlfriend Yolanda is a different kind of rebel. On the outside, she is an overly optimistic gal like Gustavo, but on the inside, she longs for abundance and a more easy going lifestyle. She pains to go to the other side, which she does at the end of the movie. She seduces an Italian tourist in order to enjoy the better things in life, while she falls for Gustavo whose intentions are practically pure.

Gustavo's perceptions of his beloved "patria," or nation change after realizing that his scholarship is fake, along with the beliefs that he held dearly. His professor confesses to him a regret of missing the chance to emigrate to Miami with his family. The academic tries to convey to Gustavo that regardless of his beliefs, he is responsible for his own fate.

In the end, Gustavo takes a drastic decision one that is ill-fated.

Rene's performance is the only one that is truly worth mentioning along with a fairly decent performance by the guy who plays his brother. Mayte although noteworthy in a couple of scenes, including an Ophelian type soliliquoy in the boudoir, is barely noticeable. However, between the beautiful photography, Rene's sincere and emotionally charged performance, and Leon Ichaso's perceptions of his beloved Cuba, make this an unforgettable and truly haunting look at the Communist nation."