DAY OF THE FLOWERS

4 out of 10

Release date: 29th November 2013

Director: John Roberts (Paulie / War of the Buttons)

Cast: Eva Birthistle, Charity Wakefield, Carlos Acosta, Bryan Dick, Christopher Simpson and Phyllis Logan

Writer: Eirene Houston

Trailer: DAY OF THE FLOWERS

UnknownHere comes an unexpected rom-com / chick flick splattered across a travelogue / left-wing fantasy.  I think Day of the Flowers began as a serious look into a families past and a hunt for old ghosts on the other side of the world. Somebody read one of the drafts and had a really shit idea to turn it into a spritely and cute comedy.  This may have worked if the makers had thought to make either of their female leads remotely likeable or convincing but they didn’t – they did the opposite. Actually, I have met women this ‘fucking’ infuriating in the past so I take back saying the leads were unconvincing, maybe it’s just that I can spot idiots like these miles off so I avoid them in real life – and that it’s been a while.

Two sisters, Rosa (EVE BIRTHISTLE – AE FOND KISS) and Ailie (CHARITY WAKEFIELD – SERENA) steal their father’s ashes from their evil step-mother (PHYLLIS LOGAN – SOFT TOP HARD SHOULDER) and run off to Cuba to scatter them where her Mother is buried on the Day of the Flowers.  For no reason other than to bulk out the cast, Rosa has invited fellow street socialist Conway (BRYAN DICK – BLEAK HOUSE) (who wore a kilt everywhere – which nobody seemed to pass comment on) and they go on a road trip – which included following some pretty obvious clues.  In the melee, the father’s ashes get confiscated, they draw some unsavoury attention for a local hustler Ernesto (CHRISTOPHER SIMPSON – MISCHIEF NIGHT) and a caring and fluffy local Tomas (CARLOS ACOSTA – NEW YORK I LOVE YOU). Will Rosa be hoodwinked by the evil Ernesto only to be saved from herself by Tomas? Of course. Is Conway’s only purpose to provide an insipid love interest for Ailee, of course. Are there well sign-posted revelations about parental heritage to be discovered and wept over? Well, yes. Is this predictability enjoyable, hell no.

The only things I can recommend you see Day of the Flowers for are Cuba itself, and the music. So mostly Day of the Flowers delivers for those that want to visit one day, and for those that want to return one day. The acting isn’t bad. Wakefield (who isn’t Scottish) doesn’t quite nail her accent and comes across as shrill and annoying. Everybody else is accomplished enough but its not enough to give this trudge in a hot country anything to write home about. It’s hard to see who would enjoy this movie, as it’s too strange to be a TV time but too safe and niche to attract a cinema audience. It may be after the ‘grey’ pound – shooting to be a light counterpart to the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – but it’s too lightly sketched and shallow.

4 out of 10 – Reasonably well acted – sadly it’s too boring and annoying to recommend.  A potentially interesting and deep story about discovering who you really are and who your parents were is abandoned in the search for ‘cute’ laughs and the road more travelled.  For Cuban nostalgics alone, and even then….

Check out Matt Floppy Flowers Usher’s review below

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Eva Birthistle: Wake Wood, Waking The Dead (TV), The Children, Imagine Me & You, Breakfast On Pluto, Borstal Boy, Ae Fond Kiss
  • Charity Wakefield: Scar Tissue, Serena
  • Carlos Acosta: New York I Love You
  • Bryan Dick: The Numbers Station, I Anna, Bleak House (TV)
  • Christopher Simpson: Sixteen, It’s a Wonderful Afterlife, Brick Lane, Mischief Night
  • Phyllis Logan: Downton Abbey (TV), Nativity, Shooting Fish, Secrets and Lies, Soft Top Hard Shoulder, Freddie as FR07, The Doctor and The Devils
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One thought on “DAY OF THE FLOWERS

  1. DAY OF THE FLOWERS

    Britpic takes a holiday to Cuba by way of Scotland for what I assumed would be some sort of arty movie (what with it having a top ballet dancer in it and the kind of title that frequently turns up in the Best Foreign Language Award categories). But instead we find Eva Birthistle and Charity Wakefield playing stereotypical chalk-and-cheese sisters (one’s a ditzy party girl, the other’s a ditzy left-wing activist) in a disappointingly fluffy standard romcom.

    Dad’s just died, but daughter Rosa (named after Luxemberg and played by Birthistle) is estranged from the family due to an awful stepmother (poor old Phyllis Logan being given too little to do as usual other than be moderately awful). Objecting to the thought that her father’s ashes will be turned into a golf trophy, Rosa nicks them and jets off to Cuba where mum and dad used to work in some sort of revolutionary capacity. She’s taking with her Bryan Dick as a kilt-wearing and not particularly committed communist. Who turns up at the airport but sister Ailie (Wakefield with dodgy accent) who’s invited herself along.

    And so the stage is set for some fairly standard romcom shenanigans. Rosa wants to find the real revolutionary Cuba, Ailie wants to have fun in the big clubs. The usual complications ensue, with dodgy Ernesto up to no good, and good-hearted Tomas (Carlos Acosta looking for something to do once he has to hang his legs up, or whatever ballet dancers hang up when they retire), who keeps an eye on our ditzy heroines as they get into one hilarious scrape after another. The ashes get impounded, the girls get fleeced of their money numerous times, they row, end up in the wrong beds, nearly get raped by evil foreigners, and find out that they maybe aren’t related after all but that doesn’t matter because they are still sisters. So all the stuff you usually expect from minor-league holiday romcoms.

    What’s a shame though is that it could have been so much more interesting. Cuba is still undergoing the revolution (fifty-odd years on) and has numerous pressures which make it the country it is today. On the one hand there is the revolution, but then there is the effect of being in the USA’s backyard. There are the expectations of tourists and the interests of the Cubans. And then there are those, like Rosa, who see Cuba as the success story of the hard-left. Her awakening in this regard ends up as being little more than a show of annoyance at some tourist-friendly clubs. But the film seems terrified about really looking at Cuba, or the characters’ relation to Cuba. It is as if everything has to be subsumed to the clockwork plot. Cuba just becomes a nice backdrop, and a nice soundtrack. What is even more of a shame though is that this film could only be made in Cuba; it’s very site-specific, but having gone to the trouble of coming up with a plot which needs to take place in Cuba, the film-makers then sacrifice most of the Cuba-centricness for all the ditzy nonsense.

    The performances across the board are fine but in a sitcom / romcom kind of way rather than anything ‘realistic’. There’s nothing wrong with this style of acting in the right place, but it does telegraph to the audience the fact that what we’re seeing is just an attempt at fun. Ultimately it doesn’t matter one jot whether Rosa gets to scatter her dad’s ashes on the Day of Flowers, nor does the truth of the girls’ parentage matter, because it’s all just dealt with with a comedy shrug and a roll of the eyes and some nice Cuban music in the background.

    I’m not suggesting that the film should have been a hard-hitting documentary style expose, or some glum socialist tract on Cuba’s socialist success / failure (depending on your point of view). But I do wish that the film had taken its own story more seriously, and that the implications and characters involved had been thought about more. By going off at a tangent and producing an ‘oops-a-daisy-what-a-weird-holiday-we’re-having’ light comedy, the film sells itself short. One idly wonders if the Cuban government had a say in anything…

    On the scale of romantic comedies, it rates as fairly average. As a film examining the rights and wrongs of ideological commitment it falls apart after about ten minutes. As an advertisement for Cuban holidays it’s much more successful (just so long as you don’t trust any of the natives of course). In fact it ends up setting quite a right-wing agenda, with revolutionaries betraying the cause and each other, and Cuba shown to be a place of danger for respectable white women. I wonder if that was the intention?

    Review by Matthew Usher

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