Picks and Pans Review: Havana

updated 12/24/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/24/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

Robert Redford, Lena Olin

Don't expect any insights into the Cuban revolution or displays of political savvy. But if it's an old-fashioned, we-always-want-what-we-can't-have love story you desire, Havana is the right place to get it.

The plot—a jaded American sharpie falling for a woman married to an international political hotshot—is so much like Casablanca you expect Redford to do a hill-of-beans-in-this-crazy-world speech. Cuba in late 1958 provides an ideal setting, with Redford as a gambler just trying to make one big score, until he meets Olin (The Unbearable Lightness of Being), whose husband, Raul Julia, is a Castroite.

Director Sydney (Tootsie) Pollack and writers Judith Rascoe and David Rayfiel dabble in cynicism. When Olin tries to bribe him, Redford says, "It'd be against my principles—if I had any." And Alan Arkin, a casino owner whose world-weary demeanor matches Redford's, tells him, "The biggest jerk you ever knew has a woman somewhere who's nuts over him. Women are perfect."

Then again, Redford has to try to deliver the line, "You shared a lot—revolution," to Olin and Julia. And Olin's behavior doesn't fit—she seems awfully quick to pack it in as far as the revolution goes just because Redford's shirts match his eyes so well.

This is a movie where rooting makes more sense than analyzing anyway. Redford and Olin are so attractive and Batista's boys are such rats that even if you're no good at being noble, you'll have a hard time rooting against the couple living happily ever after. (R)

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