“7 Days In Havana” is an omnibus feature that has seven different directors tell seven different stories, one for each day of the week, each set in the Cuban capital of Havana. The stories consist of an American actor coming to Cuba to study and getting mixed up with a transvestite, Serbian director Emir Kusturica visiting Havana to attend a film festival he is being honoured at only to dodge the official after-party to spend time with his driver at a musical jam session and experience the real Havana, a young Cuban singer falls in love with a Spanish music producer who promises a better life away from Cuba, a diplomat wonders the city of Havana aimlessly whilst on his first visit to the city, a mother and father outraged at their daughter’s experiments in lesbianism have a ritual performed on her to cleanse the young girl, a doctor takes a day off her job to prepare pastries for a paying customer amid blackouts and family crisis’s, and finally, the virgin Mary comes to an elderly woman in her dreams requesting a fountain to be erected in the woman’s house in honour of her.
As you can see by the plethora of content within “7 Days In Havana”, it is not just a postcard or travel-log of the beautiful city, as a lot of subjects are tackled such as entertainment, politics, religion, sex, culture and family. That said, the best of Havana is shown throughout and the directors and cinematographers involved never miss an opportunity to expose its beauty. While I enjoyed witnessing and feeling the life in Havana and experiencing the sights and sounds of the city, the film suffers the same problem most omnibus features do, which is a consistency (of quality) between segments. For me the two standout segments were the Tuesday and Thursday stories. “Tuesday” was the segment with Emir Kusturica and I felt that this segment had the most heart and real emotion to it, and even though I cannot be sure as I have never visited Cuba, it also felt like it gave a glimpse of the real city. “Thursday” was a very funny, almost dialogue free piece that saw a diplomat silently observing daily life in Havana, whilst regularly getting lost at his hotel. I actually thought this story was a little gem, and the pacing and quiet atmosphere of it made me regularly think of Jacques Tati’s Monsieur Hulot films.
A problem with the film that I had, and this may sound a little contradictory, was that a lot of it had a sameness feeling to it. The only segment that seemed to differ (dramatically) visually from the rest was Gaspar Noe’s (the only director that I was familiar with and the reason I saw this film) contribution, which was about the ritual performed on the young girl. From memory this segment was entirely dialogue free minus the chants of the ritual itself, and it was also the shortest piece in this anthology film. From the opening frame it was readily obvious that this was the work of Gaspar Noe too.
Whilst the film had no segments that could be described as outright duds, I did feel that as a whole it went too long that by the time the final two segments had come around, I was starting to have enough and thus I cared little for those stories. Overall, while I enjoyed “7 Days In Havana” in the moment of watching it, I do not think I would ever bother revisiting it in the future.