Vivo movie review & film summary (2021)


The multitalented Lin-Manuel Miranda provides the songs and the voice of the titular role: a charismatic and wide-eyed kinkajou who busks on the streets of Havana. Most of the movie’s music carries the catchy rhythms and clever wordplay that are the signatures of the man who created “Hamilton” and “In the Heights.” An infectious highlight is the upbeat, Latin-flavored opening number, which Vivo performs to an appreciative crowd alongside his human companion, the aging musician Andres (a gentle Juan de Marcos of Buena Vista Social Club). The two have a warm and easy chemistry, and the furry dude couldn’t be cuter in his tiny hat and neckerchief, rapping and playing the bongo. Seriously, you may be seeing a bunch of Vivo backpacks and T-shirts when kids return to school in a few weeks.

To us—and, as we’ll find out later, to other animals—he’s intelligible, but all the rest of the world hears are adorable chirping and chittering sounds. Still, Vivo has a deep emotional connection with Andres, a tender soul who still pines for the one who got away. His former performing partner, Marta Sandoval (voiced by a gracious Gloria Estefan), fled for the United States decades ago to fulfill her dreams of stardom. An invitation to reunite with her in Miami for her farewell concert enlivens old memories and yearnings for what might have been; his recollection of the melancholy, melon-hued sunset the day her plane took off is swoonworthy. Similarly, flashbacks rendered in traditional, two-dimensional animation add a romantic, wistful feel compared to the contours and textures of the present-day scenes.

Vivo is afraid to leave the insular familiarity of his Havana plaza for a trip to the big city. But when tragedy hits—which the screenplay from DeMicco and “In the Heights” writer Quiara Alegría Hudes handles with great delicacy and grace—he must find the bravery to make the journey and deliver one last song from Andres to Marta. A visit from Andres’ niece, Rosa (Zoe Saldana), and her daughter, Gabi (energetic newcomer Ynairaly Simo), gives Vivo the opportunity to stowaway to Key West. And Gabi, a perky, purple-haired tween who’s a bit of a misfit—as we’re told repeatedly in her anthem about marching to the beat of her own drum—is so starved for friendship that she’s thrilled to make the 160-mile trek with him. She also hopes to make music with Vivo, which harkens to a loss in her own family.

You can view the original article HERE.

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