If you are a diehard Cubaphile like myself you likely have an insatiable appetite for all things Cuban and all people Cubano or Cubana. If you hanker to be back on the island as soon as you leave it, then help is on its way with a click of your Netflix account. Enter the cinematic world of Cuban detective/mystery writer Leodardo Padura’s “Four Seasons in Havana” and you need never leave!
For those of you who have never stumbled upon Padura’s novels, set in the depths of gritty Havana and starring his rogue yet instinctive master detective and member of the Havana ‘Policia Nacional’, Lt. Mario Conde, your craving can now be easily assuaged and it should be soon! Watch the trailer here.
Based on a quartet of award-winning and internationally acclaimed Padura novels the series is set in Cuba’s “Special Period” of the 1990’s (though in many ways the time could be now certainly in terms of the architecture and automobiles.) Padura’s Lt. Conde investigates a series of complicated murders that demand the relentless skills of the protagonist who seemingly knows every inch and shady character (and, incidentally, most of the women as well) in the city.
Currently streaming in Spanish (with sub-titles) on Netflix, the mini-series is the product of a screenplay written by Padura and his lifetime collaborator (and wife), Lucia Lopez Coll, consisting of four segments (seasons) of ninety minutes each. Lt. Conde is played and, in my view, personified, by the immensely talented Jorge Perrugoria (who now officially has the best job ever in Cuba – playing Conde). Keen island-watchers and international cinemaphiles will recognize Perrugoria from his Oscar-nominated Cuban hit , “Fresa y Chocolate” from 1993. Sure he has put on a few pounds, smokes like it’s a habit you wished you never quit and drinks like his cherished pet fighting fish (who is his only roommate) but, hey, he gets the job done and the ladies certainly seem to like him!
The beauty of Four Seasons of Havana is that it gets you inside the “real” Havana: inside its homes and ancient apartments, inside its police stations and interrogation rooms, inside its back streets and alleys, and inside the minds of those who live there. Normally these aspects of Havana life are not easily accessible for a tourist or outsider but, through this stunning series, you are granted an insider’s view.
“Four Seasons of Havana“ was released in December, 2016 and should not be confused with “Havana Quartet” currently under pre-production with Antonio Banderas as the lead (playing Lt. Conde).
Suffice it to say, if you are pining for a major Havana-fix, tap into “Four Seasons of Havana”. But leave out enough cat food and cancel all deliveries. You will be officially tied up for the next six hours of Havana bliss!
A.J. Twist is a Montreal-based travel writer and photographer who determined to solve the mystery that is Havana.