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Film Review: ‘PAPA: Hemingway in Cuba’

PAPA: Hemingway in Cuba Fast Facts 
Directed by: Bob Yari
Cast: Giovanni Ribisi as Ed Myers, Joely Richardson as Mary Hemingway, Adrian Sparks as Ernest Hemingway, Minka Kelly as Debbie Hunt
Rating: R for language, sexuality, some violence and nudity
Runtime: 110 minutes
Release: April 29, 2016


In my head, I imagine casually running into Taylor Swift, having her be completely enchanted by my quirkiness, and becoming insta-Best Friends. We’d bake cupcakes, cuddle with kittens, and go to Coachella. Well, that’s basically what happened in the movie PAPA: Hemingway in Cuba. Only, instead of me, it’s Ed Myers, a junior reporter at a Miami newspaper. And instead of TSwift, it’s the legendary American author, Ernest Hemingway. Oh, and instead of #squadgoals, it’s adventure and drama and revolution in 1950s/1960s Cuba.

The movie is based on the true experiences of writer Denne Bart Petitclerc, who penned the screenplay about his personal adventures with Hemingway in Cuba. The movie changes some of the real life details, including the name of our protagonist, but otherwise maintains historical accuracy. The opening credits include zoom-ins of newspapers whose headlines and photos give historical context to the rocky relationship between Cuba and the United States. Hemingway, an American living in Cuba, is caught in the middle. I found this to be an effective and creative way of informing the reader of the setting, without making viewers feel dumb! I also adored that the movie was actually the first Hollywood production in fifty years to be filmed in Cuba. Cuba itself felt like a character in the movie, and seeing the Cuban landscape, seas, and architecture made me feel even more engrossed in the story.

MV5BMjE5NDczNTAzOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDM2NjMwNzE@._V1_SX1024_CR0,0,1024,682_AL_More than that, the film genuinely captures the complicated friendship between the two men. I attribute this to a smart screenplay. Much like his real-life mentor, Petitclerc’s writing is succinct and concise, and the story gets straight to the point. Within minutes, we learn Myers’ father was killed, and he grew up an orphan with no patriarchal role models. Myers describes in a fan letter to Hemingway that the author’s books were like an old friend to him, there when no one else was. More than that, they inspired and guided him to be a writer. Myers is shocked when Hemingway receives the letter, calls him, and invites him to visit the Hemingway’s family home in Cuba. “Call me Papa,” the author says, “Everybody does.” During a series of visits, the two grow closer, and it’s easy for Hemingway to morph into a father figure role for Myers. However, as Hemingway’s health dwindles, his depression and alcoholism consumes him, creating tension between the two that mirrors the international drama going on around them. The result is a deep character driven drama against a fascinating backdrop that I enjoyed following thoroughly.

Even though Taylor and I probably won’t get matching friendship bracelets anytime soon, I enjoyed seeing Petitclerc’s journey, as seen through Myers, as he met his idol Hemingway. The acting in the movie is phenomenal, and the intensity both Ribisi and Sparks bring to their roles is incredible.  I enjoyed the costumes, sets, and cinematography. What I loved best is that they took a real life situation, regardless of how rare it was, and made it seem so completely authentic and relatable. As such, I definitely recommend this film to you, GeekGirl World!

For a closer look at PAPA, check out the official trailer below:

What did YOU think GeekGirl World? Let us know in the comments section!

Be sure to catch PAPA: Hemingway in Cuba during its release in theaters beginning April 29, 2016!

Want more movie madness, darling cinephiles? Be sure to check out our other film reviews here!

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