When Mama is on the stage, it does not look like lip-sync, but as if she was really singing. Backstage at the nightclub, her hairdresser, Jesús (Héctor Medina), is looking intently at Mama (Luis Alberto García). His dream is to be like Mama, a drag performer. Young Jesús has not had an easy life. His father was sent to prison when Jesús was a child, and his mom died years ago. Mama agrees to let him perform. His stage name will be Viva. Jesús likes the same singers his mother used to like. Cuban torch song singers like Maggie Carles and Rosita Fornes. One night, while Jesús is performing, his father Angel (Jorge Perugorría), shows up. Freshly released from prison, Angel insists on coming to live with in his son’s small apartment. Beside of the fact that they hardly know each other, Angel is an alcoholic with a violent temper who wants Jesús to stop performing in drag and does not hide his disgust for his son’s homosexuality. And Jesús, like a good son, quit performing. Or at least at first, he is resigned. So since he needs to make money, he becomes a prostitute. But Angel has a secret, the very reason why he reunites with Jesús. Many in the gay community will have recognized themselves in the character of Jesús, a young gay man who has to find his own place in the world. Doing so, Jesús has the courage to fight the prejudices of those he loves and made himself more valuable to them than he ever thought possible. Similarly, like a lot of people in the LGBTQ community, he had to find a network of support among friends: We’ll call that his chosen family. Viva shows us a world we never see in movies. It is harsh and dark at times, but it also occasionally let some sun shine in.
Luis Alberto Garcia
In Spanish with English subtitles