August (Armando Capó, Cuba/Costa Rica/France) — Discovery

By Caitlin Quinlan

In August, director Armando Capó makes beautiful use of a Cuban colour palette: lush, leafy greens, rich sea blues, with accents of yellows and oranges. Even the subtitles appear in a soft shade of pink. This debut feature is indicative of a director with a skillful eye for composition and framing, and there is an added affection for these landscapes here, the sights of the director’s own hometown. 

Cuban history, and perhaps Capó’s own memories of his experiences, are woven into the fabric of this work. We follow teenager Carlos during the worst weeks of the balseros crisis, as he finishes school for the summer, traipses around abandoned buildings with friends, and grows close to the girl his best friend is smitten by. With his family, including his grandmother (with whom he has a brilliantly excruciating sex talk), things are almost normal. All around him, his world is changing as people risk their lives for the hope of something better in the United States. Capó’s narrative is loose and the dialogue often a little unconvincing, lacking a tightness that would make the film feel more mature. Over-scoring in particular scenes doesn’t help either. But still this is a sincere, intimate work, one that feels lovingly composed.

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