First Hit: A mediocre attempt to share the final days of Hemingway in Cuba while watching his creative demise through alcohol.
I liked the idea and concept of this film but segments, especially with Joely Richardson (as Mary Hemingway), felt as though either the screenplay or the acting was forced and poorly executed.
The idea that Ernest Hemingway (Adrian Sparks) responded to a letter that reporter Ed Myers (Giovanni Ribisi) wrote him resulting in an invitation to Cuba to meet Hemingway was creative. However, there didn’t seem to be enough energy between the two despite the screenplay that wanted Myers feel as though Papa was going to take the role of his own family.
There were scenes that were very engaging between the two, like when Hemingway accused Myers was ratting on him to a mafia guy. Conversely there were numerous scenes where I wondered why Myers was in Cuba.
Scenes of Hemingway taking over conversations to up his ego by telling stories about himself may have been representative to the real Hemingway, however, when Mary started calling him on his self-centered behavior in public the film and acting didn’t engage me as being right or truthful. The general scenes of Cuba were OK, but I think there could have been more to share and Hemingway’s compound, although it may have been representative, was atypical of how Cuban’s live.
Richardson’s Mary Hemingway was uneven because the two different personalities she displayed didn’t seem to fit well. Ribisi’s character was strong and I didn’t buy that he was a writer because we didn’t get snippets of his craft, only praise by other characters. Minka Kelly as Myers’ girlfriend was very good and I enjoyed when she was on the screen. Sparks’ Hemingway was strong and I bought his character flaws and all. Shaun Toub as Hemingway’s long term friend Evan Shipman was very good. I loved his character as the supportive friend. Denne Bart Petitclerc wrote a screenplay that was erratically strong and challenged. Bob Yari’s direction felt uneven.
Overall: This film was interesting in some ways and mostly to learn more about Hemingway’s later years.