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Originally published Thursday, October 31, 2013 at 3:09 PM

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‘Una Noche’: One night changes everything for 3 Cuban teens

A three-star review of “Una Noche,” an affecting film about three teens who try to escape Havana on a homemade raft.

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie Review 3 stars

‘Una Noche,’ with Dariel Arrechaga, Anailín de la Rúa de la Torre, Javier Núñez Florián. Written and directed by Lucy Mulloy. 89 minutes. In Spanish with English subtitles. Not rated; for mature audiences. Sundance Cinemas.

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“Behind us, the city kept moving,” says Lila (Anailín de la Rúa de la Torre), a Havana teen escaping to Miami on a homemade boat in “Una Noche.” “I’m sure nobody even knew we were gone.”

Havana, bustling and broiling and colorful, becomes a character in Lucy Mulloy’s affecting film; a place the characters try to escape, but like a dance partner who won’t let go. Lila’s leaving with her brother Elio (Javier Núñez Florián) and his best friend Raul (Dariel Arrechaga) — the latter of whom, sick of poverty and longing to see the absent father he dreams of, hatches the plan. Over one steaming-hot day, supplies are obtained, a makeshift boat (a raft, really) constructed, plans made and changed (Lila wasn’t originally included, but insists on going), and a life is left behind.

The film’s final third takes place on the raft; cramped and quiet, it already seems worlds away from Havana. As the three teens form an unexpected triangle, and the idea begins to seem not quite so well thought out (Lila reminds the boys that in Miami they’ll likely be “sweating in a kitchen somewhere,” just like Cuba), night falls, danger looms, and the raft seems to get smaller before our eyes. It’s a terribly sad story, and a reminder that stories just like it play out constantly in those waters — during long nights, the kind that seem as if day will never come.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or

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