If I were to recommend you to watch ‘Blame it on Fidel’ for a light, afternoon children’s fare, I would be spot on. Strangely, I would also be right if I were to claim that it is a subtle examination of political system and economic organization of our time. Yes, this contradiction and the film’s ability to pull it off with aplomb makes it a must-watch gem.
The film sets out to explore the turning of Anna and her brother, Francois’s life upside down in the midst of widespread political upheaval sweeping across continents and their very home. Their parents are liberals hauled into the swirling political winds of 1970s France in part due to guilt of having ignored their social belief in order to build a comfortable life of well-adorned home and manicured gardens. In an effort to right the wrong and embrace a new life of bohemian adventure and iconoclastic ideology, they start with gusto. But Anna is not so sure.
Francois provides the much needed comic relief in this adorable tussle between the elder child and her parents. In the aftermath of one such battle, Anna storms out of the house hauling Francois (perhaps to save him from her parents) onto the streets of Paris. The lilting melody of those moments becomes the troubling memory of the film. Audiences will, at once, find themselves smiling at the girl’s fiery temperament and profoundly touched by the love between siblings.
The movie is particularly effective by not answering the very questions it poses. Anna does not simply accept her parent’s theories at face value. She resists, she prods, she questions before she embraces. Essentially, what begins as a journey to educate Anna on a certain ideology also ends up being a lesson for parents themselves. In the process, audiences are left delving deeper into their own minds wondering if they can differentiate between group solidarity and sheep mentality, if they always know when they are sure, if it is ok to simply throw crumbs at poor farmers and workers in the name of charity or do we need to bring fundamental change to right the wrong of generations past.