Papa Hemingway in Cuba

Hemingway had many talents, aging not being one of them.

Papa Hemingway in CubaWhile Papa Hemingway in Cuba is an interesting biopic, it may be close to the most depressing film you have ever seen. Focusing on his stay in Cuba in 1958 on the eve of Castro’s revolution, it provides the viewer with a window into the emotional collapse of a legendary literary genius.

Giovanni Ribisi plays Ed Myers, a Miami reporter who reaches out to Hemingway via a letter to compliment him for playing a role in helping his own life. Invited to join Hemingway in Cuba, the rest of the film is little more than a study of Hemingway’s alcoholism combined with his lost hope.

In the process, you get a first hand look at Hemingway’s bitter relationship with his fourth wife, Mary Welch (Joely Richardson). They do little more than criticize and ridicule one another, and this film comes close to discouraging marriage for any person with a bit of common sense.

Hemingway has many regrets, not the least of which focuses on prior divorces from women whom he truly loved. He hates being a celebrity, and his deteriorating writing skills leads him to recall that his father committed suicide.

Though the film becomes a bit tiresome, it is impossible to forget the talent and contributions of Hemingway to a world that he came to detest. I have had the opportunity to visit Key West on numerous occasions, and his old home is still maintained in the style that he lived in decades ago. Regardless of your feelings about him, how can you not love a guy who provided for so many five-toed cats?

Finally, I must close with the one moment in this film that gave me the greatest pleasure. Adrian Sparks, who played Hemingway, looks like the twin brother of my good friend and renowned Indianapolis lawyer, Robert Francis Wagner. Let me observe that had Wags actually played Hemingway, he would have remembered his multiple marriages in a style that we would all admire.

How ironic given the fact that Wags and his beloved wife Patty have been married for over 60 years.