Day of the Flowers

In Films by Shelley Marsden

It becomes immediately apparent that this Cuba-set drama is saved almost entirely by the presence of the country’s ballet superstar Carlos Acosta. Though his part isn’t extensive, his smouldering, understated debut in this mostly awkward rom-com is what saves it from withering away to nothing.

Northern Irish actress Eva Birthistle (Aye Fond Kiss) gives an over the top performance stuck somewhere between the clumsiness of Bridget Jones and the earnestness of Kate Winslet as Rosa, a dowdy, politically idealistic young Scottish woman who is joined by her uninvited sister Ailie, played by eye candy Charity Wakefield (the opposite of Rosa in every way), on a trip to Cuba to get to the bottom of some family secrets.

Crowd-pleasingly shot with plenty of intoxicating salsa music, picturesque cobbled streets and sun-drenched photography it’s beautiful to watch, but what might have truly lifted Day of the Flowers would have been to see Acosta use that famous body of his for some serious leaps and jumps.

The script by Eirene Houston is fairly stilted, full of pot-boiler scenes that make you want to turn down the volume, knock back a mojito and let them all get on with it. A box of ashes goes missing, there is an awkward sex scene, there are clumsy hints at the political situation on the island as we hear what Rosa’s Socialist parents got up to during the ‘70s and plenty of culture-clash moments. They just don’t really gel with each other.

On the other hand, if you can enjoy the atmospheric visuals of this fascinating country, the warm Cuban beats and ignore the rest, you might get on alright. Acosta certainly shows he has the chops for bigger, better acting roles so let’s hope he’s given them. But ultimately, John Roberts’ film fails to bloom.