Up To A Certain Point

  • 1985
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Docudrama, Drama, Political

This subtly acted docudrama is by veteran filmmaker Tomas Gutierrez Alea, whose dazzling STRAWBERRY AND CHOCOLATE won Cuba's first Best Foreign Film nomination in Hollywood's 1995 Oscar derby. Though far from Oscar caliber, this thought-provoker snakes around the hard truths a film director-protagonist avoids, both in his private life and in the documentary...read more

Where to Watch

Available to Stream

  • Watch on
Rating:

This subtly acted docudrama is by veteran filmmaker Tomas Gutierrez Alea, whose dazzling STRAWBERRY AND CHOCOLATE won Cuba's first Best Foreign Film nomination in Hollywood's 1995 Oscar derby. Though far from Oscar caliber, this thought-provoker snakes around the hard truths a film

director-protagonist avoids, both in his private life and in the documentary he toys with finishing.

In the midst of a successful career, multitalented writer Oscar (Oscar Alvarez) scratches his seven-year itch while researching a documentary about machismo in the labor class. In attempting to get under the skin of the common man and investigate how his views were affected by the Revolution,

Oscar becomes infatuated with vibrant Lina (Mirta Ibarra), who works side by side with the dockworkers. He even bases a role for his actress wife Marian (Coralia Veloz) on Lina. Both a dedicated single mother and a dedicated activist, Lina fills Oscar in on the workers movement and her own

progress defying female stereotypes. Selfishly resisting any reflection upon the damage to his marriage or the way he's compromising his film project, Oscar is furious when his partner Arturo (Omar Valdez) decides to complete the complex film essay himself. Like some of the interviewed workers who

favor complacency over action, Oscar will only commit himself up to a certain point. Despite his education, he falls prey to the same unreasoning macho jealousy as the common folk. By limiting himself to a worldview that only emphasizes his needs, Oscar's up-to-a-certain point mentality leaves all

his relationships in limbo.

Large chunks of footage are devoted to interviews with real-life blue collar males, who offer invaluable insights into Castro's Cuba and the day-to-day existence of the working poor under his regime. Equally revealing is this movie's glimpse into the attitudes of the intelligentsia slumming among

the less privileged for artistic validation. Made on the 25th anniversary of the Revolution and released to US home video in 1995, this ambitious drama charts the course of changing mind-sets through the decades; it makes the perfect bookend for Alea's earlier art-house classic, MEMORIES OF

UNDERDEVELOPMENT (1968). Although UP TO A CERTAIN POINT does not jell, its mass of contradictions are worth consideration. The film is a brave attempt to equate the resistance to male-female equality in the lower middle classes with the larger issue of the set-in-its-ways government's control of

its citizenry. Professing to love Lina, Oscar wishes to imprison her as a traditional mistress; his self-serving neediness reflects poorly on his enlightenment. Although the movie ends ambiguously with Lina symbolically boarding a plane, the protagonist Oscar has more in common with the

traditionalist workmen than he might want to admit. One interviewee boasts: "I've changed up to a certain point. I'm probably at 80 percent, but they'll never get me to 100 percent. No way." Obviously, sexist political attitudes changed quite slowly during this 25-year period. For better or worse,

this unresolved diary of a filmmaker is 80 percent adept soul-searching and 20 percent artistic indecisiveness by an acclaimed moviemaker. (Profanity, violence, sexual situations.)

Cast & Details See all »

  • Released: 1985
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: This subtly acted docudrama is by veteran filmmaker Tomas Gutierrez Alea, whose dazzling STRAWBERRY AND CHOCOLATE won Cuba's first Best Foreign Film nomination in Hollywood's 1995 Oscar derby. Though far from Oscar caliber, this thought-provoker snakes aro… (more)

Show More »