“Una Noche” (2012) premiered at the 2012 Berlin International Film Festival and hit the independent film scene with flair, taking home awards for best actor, best cinematography, new director, woman filmmaker and best screenplay.
First time director Lucy Mulloy had spent years in Havana, Cuba researching until she created the story of Elio and Lila, teenaged twins who had never been apart, and a friendship with Raúl that challenges their understanding of each other and ultimately changes their lives forever.
Now streaming on Netflix, you can watch the raw and untrained talent rock the leading roles. Javier Núñez Florián plays Elio, dedicated twin brother to Lila, who has secretly found love in an unexpected place. Anailín de la Rúa de la Torre embodies Lila, cautious and observant, who follows her instincts and curiosity to the point of tragedy. Dariel Arrechaga is the brooding Raúl, who thirsts to leave Cuba but is torn by his need to stay and care for his mother.
In this tapestry of sun bleached landscapes and panicked landless sea, the themes of family, friendship, sexuality and gender do an intricate dance through the scenes. Those with delicate sensibilities should be warned of dialogue containing homophobic and transphobic language, moments of nudity and the brief scenes containing sexwork.
The intimate angles of the camera follow the teens’ motions through impoverished streets and tourism. We bear witness to the military presence and police violence of their daily lives, and the negotiations of their underground economy as they struggle to find their motivations, their dreams and their loyalties.