Directed by Richard Lester, the 1979 release Cuba was a box office failure on release, not surprisingly for a film that presents a hero who is ineffectual and somewhat ridiculous, attempting to rekindle a romance with a much younger woman that may never have been what he though it was. Add that said hero is played by Sean Connery and one can understand why audiences were non-plussed. However, anyone willing to approach this film on it’s own terms will find a visually gorgeous, intriguingly ambiguous entertainment, perhaps Lester’s most overlooked film.
Connery plays Major Dapes, an "honorable" mercenary hired by the Batista regime to advise the Cuban army on fighting guerrillas; Dapes discovers a corrupt to the core society on the verge of collapse, with a ruling class willfully oblivious to the sea change about to engulf them. Dapes attempts to restart a romance with a wealthy landowner played by Brook Adams, but it becomes aware to the audience that their personal relationship doesn’t amount to a "hill of beans" in the context of the momentous changes looming.
Richard Lester is best known for A Hard Days Night and Help! as well as such notable works as Petulia, the Three Musketeers, and the Four Musketeers, and Cuba bears all the hallmarks of his style: visual density, with information-loaded, painterly shots, and all sorts of almost surreal bits of business inserted; much overheard and ambient dialogue, often of an ironic nature; and a panoply of finely drawn supporting characterizations and bit parts, here by such estimable performers as Hector Elizondo, Jack Weston, Martin Balsam and Denholm Elliot. Cuba may not be a scrupulously accurate chronicle of the Cuban Revolution – I don’t think that was the intent- but it provides a mordant and glittering canvas of a world that is about to transform irrevocably.