Havana’s busy streets, the tense subtext of Cuba’s confinement politics, a desperate escape via the sea; “Una Noche” has all the elements of an eminently-compelling feature film and newcomer filmmaker Lucy Mulloy shows that she’s up to the task.
Lila is a socially-awkward young woman who’s very close to her twin brother, Raul, himself in love with a troubled youngster named Elio. The two men devise a plan to flee Cuba aboard a raft; after Elio is accused of assault all three are forced to leave suddenly.
A thirty-minute portion of “Una Noche” was shot in the open sea, with Raul, Elio and Lila besieged by the elements, their plight made worse by their naiveté. This is actually the problematic part of the film, where the plot becomes stagnant and the dialogue feels forced. But it’s all easily forgivable when you consider the near-perfect ending of “Noche.”
This is an ambitious project to take on for a new filmmaker like Lucy Mulloy—take dutiful note of her. It’s not often you’ll find directors take on such a politically-charged context to flesh out a simple-yet-powerful narrative. A British-American filmmaker, Mulloy spent two years in Havana developing “Noche.” She cast amateur actors Dariel Arrechada (Raul) and Javier Nuñez Florian (Elio) right from the streets.
Against all odds “Noche” got the top nods at this year’s festival. Both Arrechada and Florian were attributed the best actor award; Trevor Forrest and Shlomo Godder won for best cinematography, and Mulloy herself took home best director.
In a strange twist, two of the main actors traveling to New York from Cuba to attend the Tribeca Festival, Anailin de la Rua de la Torre (Lila) and Javier Nuñez Florian, went missing awhile. They were later found in Miami, having defected to the U.S. and hired a lawyer to help with the asylum-seeking procedure.
“Una Noche” was shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.