Andrea Tang

Storytelling with genre-bending inclinations & international flavor.

MOVIE RECAP: Diego, let me get the next one, Diego, let me interject some, the way you sweat, the way you flex on the floor makes me want you more.

So, I actually watched Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, that unsung gem of the early 2000s, for the first time a mere month and a half ago. Now, in Diego Luna's oeuvre of sociopolitically and culturally punch-packing films, you don't usually see this one mentioned. I say this is clearly a slight against the excellent subtext at play in this underrated work of art! As such, I have dug up & supplied my own personal live-blog of this movie in the following blog post, partly to provide evidence for the film's obvious underrated political and artistic merit, and partly so that should you choose to watch it, you can skip all the actual plot and just watch the parts where Diego Luna dances. Without further ado:

When you're ten minutes into Dirty Dancing & chill, and Diego Luna's like, "babe, I've got some feelings about American economic imperialism I want to share with you." Actual things that happen in this film (spoilers below)!

1. Scene: a street in Havana, where Romola Garai observes firsthand that Diego Luna's hips do not lie. He flirts briefly & helps her escape safely home during a government crackdown on some local revolutionaries, which is how all meet-cutes should go, really.

Romola Garai's Mom, Stacy from House: !!!!! WHAT IF YOU HAD BEEN KIDNAPPED BY REBELS.
Romola Garai: It's not the REBELS you should worry about, MOM.

2. Scene: a romantic afternoon at the beach, where someone sings softly in Spanish, as Diego Luna and Romola Garai stare lovingly into each other's eyes while the sun goes down.

Diego Luna: You must understand that Afro-Cuban dance was the dance of slaves. It was the only way to experience freedom.
Romola Garai: ... Um.
Diego Luna: *turns broodingly toward the sunset* Batista has spies everywhere. A traitor could be anyone, but my father was just a free thinker. Someone didn't like his thoughts.

[Someone strums a guitar, as the young would-be lovers continue to make cow eyes]

Diego Luna: THERE'S A REVOLUTION OUT THERE, AND WHAT AM I DOING??
Romola Garai: *sighs*
Me: *eats popcorn* Screw Baby and her corner, this is the best Dirty Dancing movie of all time.

3. Not actually a specific scene, but a summary of the next fifty minutes of the movie in a nutshell:

Romola Garai: Diego, do you know how it feels to be struck to the bone in a moment of breathless delight, and how your world may be changed in just one burst of light?
Diego Luna: WHO CARES ABOUT YOUR LONELY SOUL, WE STRIVE TOWARD A LARGER GOAL, OUR LITTLE LIVES DON'T COUNT AT ALL. But sure, I'll teach you a thing or two about eros while we got a sec.

4. Major spoiler: the big climactic dance contest at the fancy hotel is literally interrupted by the deposition of Fulgencio Batista at the hands of Che Guevara's rebel forces, gunshots, and someone yelling "VIVA LA REVOLUCIÓN" as crowds flee. Romala Garai & Diego Luna are tragically separated by the shadow of the Cuban embargo, and also Fidel Castro's promise to kick all the American companies out of Havana.

Romola Garai: We lost the dance contest, but at least we got to bang during the fall of an authoritarian dictatorship.
Diego Luna: This is extremely true, though Fidel Castro's rule might come with its own shit, just saying. Also, he hates America. 
Romola Garai: Then come away to America with ME.
Diego Luna: Nah, gotta see the greater sociopolitical good of the homeland through. 
Romola Garai: BUT I LOVE YOU & YOUR UN-LYING HIPS.
Diego Luna: I love you & your truthful hips too, but I love patria more. Brb, babe, gotta hook up with Jyn Erso and steal the Death Star plans, you know how it is. Rebellions are built on hope, etc. etc.
Romola Garai: At least we'll always have revolution & eros.
Diego Luna: Which is the best kind of eros, lbr.

In short, this film bills itself as a romantic dance movie, but is clearly just the untold story of Cassian Andor's youth, and also the tragedy of how Romola Garai's failure to apply for citizenship in Pierre Elliott Trudeau's Canada forever cockblocked her from further revolutionary banging with Diego Luna, which is really the greatest object lesson of this story. All in all, A+++++ work of art, 10/10 would recommend.