Film Review - Day of the Flowers

John Roberts’ quirky romantic drama, starring Cuban Royal Ballet star Carlos Acosta, benefits from its central conceit – the clash of Scottish and Cuban culture. It’s an original idea, cleverly executed.

As different as chalk and cheese, Scottish sisters Rosa (Eva Birthistle) and Ailie (Charity Wakefield) rarely see each other. Rosa’s an activist, who is always tramping the streets of Glasgow for good causes and trying to change the world. Her little sister, Ailie, is more interested in clothes and make-up. They are thrown together at their father’s funeral where they learn that their step mum (an amusing cameo from Phyllis Logan) intends to turn their father’s ashes into a golf ornament. Horrified, Rosa decides to make a run for it with the deceased’s remains in her handbag.

Their mother and father had been happiest when working together in Cuba, supporting the revolutionary cause, so Rosa decides to travel to the Caribbean island and scatter her father’s ashes during the annual Day of the Flowers festival. Led by the curious collection of postcards, photographs and receipts he left behind, Rosa believes her mother’s remains are already there. She asks her kilt-wearing socialist friend Conway (Bryan Dick) to accompany her, but both are dismayed when Ailie turns up at the airport, dressed for a beach holiday, and determined to come too.

As they travel through Cuba towards Trinidad, the trio undergo various misadventures involving a dodgy taxi driver, a persistent Lothario and the state police who confiscate their father’s ashes because they don’t have the relevant paperwork. Their saviour is local tourist guide Tomas (Acosta) who, they discover, is also a ballet teacher. Given Acosta’s world-class status as a dancer, this allows for a wonderful scene in a nightclub (reminiscent of John Travolta’s self-referential dancing in Pulp Fiction). Acosta, in his first feature film role, is something of a revelation. He has a commanding screen presence and his physicality and smouldering looks are bound to set hearts racing.

Day of The Flowers is an engaging, character-driven drama in which family secrets are revealed and love is in the air. Some of the situations in which the sisters find themselves may be a little far fetched, but this is more than made up for by Vernon Layton’s sumptuous cinematography capturing Cuba’s natural beauty, its vibrant culture and hinting at a darker side less often seen by tourists.

Review originally published by