Sergio and Sergei
Lost in space
Film. A cosmonaut stuck in space, a Cuban victim of the economic crisis… Ernesto Daranas’ satirical and nostalgic comedy has an original point of view on the collapse of the Soviet bloc.
By Garance Lunven
Bad news for USSR! 1991 sounds the Soviet Bloc’s death knell and causes the collapse of his allies like Cuba. Sergei (Hector Noas) attends Russia’s transition aboard station Mir- there is no money to bring him down on Earth. Whereas Sergio (Tomás Cao) suffers from the economical crisis in Cuba. Thanks to a radio equipment, he manages to get in touch with the Russian cosmonaute and people in the entire world, including Peter, an American coming from Poland (Ron Perlman, seen in Quest for Fire or Drive). Then an unexpected friendship triangle takes shapes beyond political, social and geographical borders.
”Just like an ensemble film, fates are connected and languages get mixed up in this conversation through radio waves.
The contrast between hot stifling Cuba and cold space where the Robinson Crusoé of cosmos is gravitating is quite striking. The camera keeps wavering between these two landscapes. Just like an ensemble film, fates are connected and languages get mixed up in this conversation through radio wave. The characters are the pieces of a machinery that is way beyond them and they are History’s outsiders. Sergio has to support his family and makes illegal activities: a rhum distillery is installed in his kitchen. Comedy flirts with drama, as in the excellent Good Bye, Lenin! directed by Wolfgang Becker, in which Christiane wakes up after 8 monthes in a coma without being able to attend the collapse of the Berlin wall and major changes in German society. Another detail which is similar in the two films: Coca-Cola ad’s apparition just at the right moment, as a ultimate sign of US victory. Sergei really existed by the way: Valery Poliakov is the cosmonaut with the longest space flight without interruption (437 days).
If Ernesto Daranas Serrano tells this story so well, it’s because he lived it himself from Havana. Cuban social and political issues are central to his work since Behavior. Sergio and Sergei is his third movie and he won public prize at Cinélatino in Toulouse in 2018. Ernesto Daranas admits he was identifying to his character, enthusiastic communist and professor in marxist philosophy. Maybe that’s why there are a few wrong notes in the film, which tends to make a rough caricature when it comes to the American biker in Harley Davidson. Told by Sergio’s daughter, who makes the connection with current generations, the film allows the audience to step into an exciting waltz through cosmos.