There are a certain set of historically bent films I can’t live without.  Midnight In Paris is one, with the masterful portrayal of Ernest Hemingway by Corey Stoll reigniting the filmgoing public’s love affair with Papa.  We got the Hemingway and Gellhorn film with Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman, a great idea on paper but lacking the believability and fire we were all expecting.  Papa delivers on almost all fronts, but surprisingly lacking the editorial eye a work based on The Man should have.


Giovanni Ribisi plays real life reporter Ed Myers, a lifetime fan of the larger than life writing voice of one Mr. Hemingway.  Myers, working in 1950’s Miami, decides to write his idol a letter, never intending to send it.  His office crush (Minka Kelly) takes it upon herself to do just that, and eventually Ed’s phone rings.  Their romance is a little shoehorned in, and I cared the least about their storyline.


Ernest calls, compliments Ed’s words, and invites him to Cuba to join a fishing trip.

Director Bob Yari (who only directed one feature previous to this, and that was 1989’s Mind Games) captures the expected ambience of Batista Cuba, complete with the La Floridita and the appearances of Papa there.

I will say there were times I found the editing to be a bit off, the cohesion of storytelling struggling to highlight the cast.

Adrian Sparks and Joely Richardson.

Joely Richardson as Mary Hemingway really steals the film, her performance is honest and at times completely gutwrenchingly painful dealing with Papa at the end of his life.  The latter half if painful and honest, we see Papa wrestling with his inner demons that would later lead to his suicide a mere 18 months after the days the film is set in.

The real Mary and Papa.

Ernest’s granddaughter actress Mariel Hemingway has a small cameo in the film, and she said of filming:

I came to Cuba 13 years ago and visited all the places related to the life of my grandfather. But this second time, for the filming, it was as if he had come back to life.

6.5/10, mostly because I wanted more FIRE from Adrian more often.  If you are looking for a period drama about this period in Cuba’s history, this film is a definate must, even though I personally think Cuba with Sean Connery is even MORE so.  If you are a Hemingway-a-phile, then for completeness, see this film.

Papa Hemingway In Cuba opens worldwide Friday April 30th, 2016.

ABOUT >> Mary Anne Butler
  • BIO >> Mary Anne Butler (Mab) is a reporter and photographer from San Francisco California. She is a lifelong geek, huge music nerd, occasionally cosplays at conventions, does Renaissance Faires, and in general lives the life of a True Believer. She may be short, but she makes up for it with a loud voice.
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