Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Four Seasons in Havana Netflix Series Review

Four Seasons in Havana (2016)
Cuatro estaciones en La Habana
Mini-series - 4 episodes (2016)
Watch Four Seasons in Havana on Netflix
Starring: Jorge Perugorría, Carlos Enrique Almirante,  Mario Guerra
Rated: TV-MA

This Cuban crime thriller follows detective Mario Conde (Jorge Perugorría) as he probes the city of Havana, investigating murder cases.

This isn't bad, but it's a series of standard by the numbers detective movies. It's a pulp novel cop show. As a movie, this is bad. As a television show, it's average since I don't hold television to as high of a standard. Each episode is ninety minutes long, and there are so many better detective shows to watch. I don't know why you'd watch this unless you want to see something Cuban made. As a Cuban show, it's excellent.
Most detective shows are about the case with the character secondary. This series is about Conde. The case is just background to give him something to do.
I  couldn't help but think of Kindergarten Cop 2 (read my review) while watching. In both, we're told the main character is the envy of men and women alike and I just can't reconcile that. Conde is just the coolest guy in the world, or so the show tells me. Did the actor just need an ego boost?
Skip it.

Each episode is in essence a movie, and it feels like it. Well it did at first, after ten minutes it's clear the writing isn't movie quality. It's not even above average television quality.
I assumed the actor playing Conde must be famous, because I couldn't understand why this show would seek to prop him up. He's made to look like a stud. He's an Ernest Hemingway caricature of a detective. He's a writer, a lover, and just a all around tough guy.
Jorge Perugorría plays Mario Conde.
Conde is played by Jorge Perugorría, who is a well regarded actor. I checked Wikipedia to learn more about him, and read that his performance in this is perfect. I guess it's easier to present an opinion as fact in a lesser read article. It's a good performance lost to an average series.

We see a fair amount of Cuba and I would have liked to see more. I'm sure the show didn't feel the need to key in on the setting since most people watching this I assume will be Cuban. The city adds a lot of character with the cars and musical backing. This feel a bit like a film noir and pulp novel, with Conde more myth than man.
Conde is a writer, and for a minute I thought it was going to do something really neat. I just couldn't buy his hot young girlfriend. Even the first scene feels like a cheap romance novel with him changing her flat tire and she goes back to his house. At first I thought the girlfriend part was part of his novel and we were just seeing what he was writing as he imagined himself in the situation. That would have been an interesting bent for this show and would have been more believable. He could have used his novel to help him work out crimes. This show really pushes how amazing and cool Conde is, but it's just wish fulfillment.

Each episode is Conde investigating a murder case. These cases are complicated with twists and turns involving various characters, but it never feels unique. We've seen similar cases on screen.

I liked the credits of episode two. Creedence Clearwater Revival Play Mary song plays over old images of Cuban residents. Episode four had what I assume is stock footage of Hurricane Matthew as a closer.

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