At a rundown bus station in rural Cuba, the line of passengers waiting just keeps getting longer. The problem is that every bus that passes by is already full. Their only hope is to wait for the station's bus to be fixed... more ». As the disparate group settles in, relationships start forming between the passengers: Emilio (Vladimir Cruz), a young engineer, becomes smitten with a beautiful young woman (Thaimi Alvarino) who is en route to meet her Spanish fiancé, a blind man (Jorge Perugorria) gets support from the others to go to the head of the line. Frustration and disorder reign when the one bus brakes down and no one can leave. Resigned to working together, the group magically transforms the station into a beautiful place where no one wants to leave. Award-winning director Juan Carlos Tabío (Strawberry and Chocolate) successfully blends magical realism and social commentary in this crowd-pleasing romantic comedy. DVD: 5.1, Interview/Making Of, subtitle control, trailer, weblinks« less
An Allegory of the Potential Latent in Common Interest
Dana Garrett | 03/20/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Waiting List is an excellent allegory on how the recognition of common interest, especially under conditions of scarcity, can naturally lead to collective action that benefits all in ways not imagined initially.
The movie opens at a bus station where would-be passengers selfishly compete for the few seats on the buses that stop at the station en route to other destinations. The figure of the scarcities produced by capitalist economies is obvious.
The bus station has its own bus, but it is broken down. The necessity of repairing the bus, as well as finding food to feed everyone stranded at the bus station for several days, causes the would-be passengers to move from understanding their interests individually and selfishly to understanding them collectively. Once they realize their interests collectively, the characters and their aspirations are transformed in a manner that seems natural.
At first a few qualified leaders emerge to harness the collective will and interests of the passengers by motivating them and providing them direction. However, in due course the leadership "withers away" because the passengers begin to actualize their unique talents and potential for the common good--abilities, in some cases, that have lain dormant for years. This is an apparent analogy to the Marxist belief that socialist societies will require the direction of a vanguard of communist visionaries and leaders until a communist societies evolve which require no leadership at all. In my view, the plot's ability to allegorize the naturalness of this evolution is its best achievement.
In time the passengers transform the bus station physically and spiritually as well. The bus station ceases to be a point of departure and becomes a point of arrival because the passengers discover community, solidarity, love and sustenance simply by pursuing their common interests collectively. The bus station becomes home, and the passengers want to remain in the community that the bus station provides because the solidarity and equality they've discovered is now understood as what they've really wanted all of their lives. The movie pulls all of this off masterfully.
But then the film surprises us. We discover that the events (the substance of the allegory) were a collective dream held by the passengers during the course of one night. Yet the dream alone, absent its realization, benefits the passengers in obvious ways. They now relate to one another out of their awakened sense of common interest and altruism as demonstrated by the help they provide one another to travel to their separate destinations. In essence, once the film persuades us that this communistic society was real, it then jolts us with the realization that such a society is as yet an unrealized dream. We are brought back to reality (to the circumstances that opened the film), but now reality is charged with the potential of collective fulfillment.
I have one issue with the film. During the dream sequence, one of the characters dies. The death seems to have no purpose other than to make the film's message about the possibility of collective fulfillment explicit during the stationmaster's eulogy. The film could trust itself more. It doesn't need to explicitly "tell" us its message. It has masterfully shown us its message already.
This is another Cuban film of remarkable acting, direction, subtlety and insight. It is well worth purchasing."
Juan Carlos Tab?o has done it again
BVSC fanatic | United States | 04/09/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In case you are not familiar with the name, it was Juan Carlos Tab?o who co-directed Tom?s Guti?rrez Alea's last two films ("Strawberry & Chocolate" and "Guantanamera"). I highly recommend THEM as well.
Tab?o's films are definitely NOT for the average audience in the United States. Most of us are too braindead to appreciate his brilliant creativity and his subtle messages. But for those of us old enough to appreciate the films created in Hollywood prior to Star Wars, and for those of us who appreciate slightly offbeat plots and outstanding character development, Juan Carlos Tab?o's films are a treasure.
Tab?o is a genius whose comprehension of human nature is as keen as Steinbeck's. But that is where the similarity ends. His sense of irony takes his plots into the realm of "theatre of the absurd". Or is it just the absurdity of LIFE that accomplishes this FOR him? Here, passengers are trapped in a remote bus terminal -- the buses always pass full, and none of the awaiting passengers can board. They are stranded. And how they -- as typically resourceful Cubans -- deal with this situation is the rest of the story, part of it dream, and part of it real, but ... which is WHICH? And once they DO get the chance to leave the terminal, do they really WANT to? Or have the relationships they've established become more enduring than the one's they knew outside of the terminal? Is the terminal a microcosmic analogy for the island of Cuba itself? Determine that for yourself as you enjoy this brilliantly conceived and brilliantly produced movie.
This is a heavy film, but with plenty of humourous moments. It includes many of Cuba's finest actors, and a script written by one of the greatest directors in the world. DON'T MISS IT.
A Major Message from a Simple Story
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 03/07/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Writer/Director Juan Carlos Tabio ('Strawberry and Chocolate', 'Guantanamera', etc) brings to Cuban cinema a very special quality of color and light that makes the people of this island appear to have their priorities better in line than in countries without the problems of dictatorship. Written with Senel Paz based on a story by Arturo Aranjo, WAITING LIST is a film about how people respond under less than positive circumstances and how such interaction produces community and understanding and love.
Set in a dilapidated seaside bus station Tabio sets in motion his story with the arrival of Emilio (Vladimir Cruz - memorable for his work with Tabio in 'Strawberry and Chocolate'), a handsome and kind Engineer who, having agreed to work his ailing father's farm until he can afford to return to his career for which he has been studying, seeks to travel to his country home. The station is full of irate people, each arguing a case for who should be first on the next bus to pass through. It seems the station's own bus is inoperable and the people must wait for the rare other buses to take them to Havana or to Santiago.
The group of people include a variety of ages, many who have lost their dreams, some who are belligerently self-centered, a 'blind man' Rolando (Jorge Perugorria - also from 'Strawberry and Chocolate') who is faking being blind to gain favor with the others, a bruja who guarantees resolution to any problems by using her herbs, two men who appear inseparable and very young in their view of life, mothers with children, retired couples missing the love of youth, etc. The stationmaster tries to calm the crowd, finally 'fixing 'the station bus, only to have it collapse again!
Emilio and Rolando slowly engage the stranded folk and convince them the bus can be fixed. During all this time Emilio has his eye on Jacqueline (Thaimi Alvarino - a very fine and sensuous actress) who is panicked that she will not make it to Havana to me her fiancé who is coming from Madrid to marry her: Jacqueline is obviously likewise attracted to the handsome kind stranger! Once the focus of the mission to repair the bus is established, the newly friendly folk set about to make the best of what they have. Night comes, all sleep, and at this point Tabio transforms his story with Latin American Magical Realism that is as tender, celebratory and lovely as any on film.
The ending of the story has to do with waking up to reality and how the shared dream has transformed the lives of everyone. To say more would dispel some of the magic this film holds. The acting is superb, the atmosphere is both very real and very imagined, and it all works extremely well. This little film is a breath of fresh Caribbean air! Grady Harp, March 05"
BEST CUBAN FILM SINCE MEMORIES OF THE UNDER DEVELOPMENT
James J. Varela | Sarasota, FL United States | 11/24/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It is a testament to the producers and writers they were able to do this film in a way that did not ruffle the feathers of state sensors. The movie is a delightful story for all ages and is able to poke fun at how people living in a dysfunctional governmental system are able to over come challenges. Films such as these show that big budgets do not always equal big quality. Hollywood can learn from the Third World Film Industry."
A Lesson for Life
Alejo | Miami, FL USA | 07/21/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie develops in a Cuban Bus Terminal when a bunch of people find themselves stocked there because the only autobus available for service is broken. With no other choice, the terminal is now their home. For me, it was like the cuban version of "The Terminal". The film contains a pretty straightforward message: A Happy life is not about what you have, it is about what you share."