ADiff review: Drag acts and dusty glamour in Paddy Breathnach’s Viva

A beautiful, funny drama filmed in Havana that surges with rough humanity

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Director: Paddy Breathnach
Cert: Club
Genre: Drama
Starring: Hector Medina, Jorge Perugorria, Luis Alberto Garcia, Laura Aleman, Luis Manuel Alvarez
Running Time: 1 hr 40 mins

The Savoy, Sunday 28th, 7.45pm, 100 min

It seems anything really is possible in Irish film. Two veterans of the domestic scene – Mark O'Halloran, writer of Adam & Paul; and Paddy Breathnach, director of I Went Down – have travelled to Havana and delivered a beautiful, funny drama that surges with rough humanity. The delicate, warm Hector Medina excels as a hairdresser who helps prepare the local drag queens. Short of money, bored in the afternoons, he declares that he want "something for himself" and embarks on his own drag career. "Mama" (Luis Alberto Garcia), senior mentor at the nightclub, is supportive. His own father, Angel (Jorge Perugorria), a boxer, is not so keen on the lad's new interests. Viva, which kicks up a few unexpected reminders of Billy Elliott, powers its way to a grandstanding finale that is no less exhilarating for being inescapable. Medina takes us through the evolution of his performance with great subtlety. Cathal Watters's camera sucks up the faded glamour of the dusty locations. A triumph.

Can't see this? Try the surprise film, the Savoy, Sunday, 5pm. It's that time of the festival again.

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke, a contributor to The Irish Times, is Chief Film Correspondent and a regular columnist