Synopsis by Mark Deming
Gustavo (Rene Lavan) is an engineering student born and raised in Cuba who strongly believes in his nation's socialist ideals at a time when those ideals are crumbling around him. His girlfriend, Yolanda (Mayte Vilan), dreams of emigrating to Miami and making a life for herself as a professional dancer. His father, Tomas (Miguel Gutierrez), is a respected psychiatrist who he can barely support himself working at a state-run institution; he moonlights as a jazz pianist, where he makes four times his medical salary playing for tips to tourists at a nightclub. And his brother Bobby (Larry Villanueva) is a rock musician whose long hair and defiant posture have made him an enemy of the state and an outspoken opponent of Castro's regime; when yet another of his performances is shut down and his equipment is confiscated by police, Bobby, in an extreme act of protest, publicly injects himself with HIV-tainted blood, making clear that when presented with the slogan of "socialism or death," he would prefer the latter. Azucar Amarga was a highly personal project for director Leon Ichaso, a emigre from Havana who has offered one of the few portraits of Cuban unrest in the 1990s from a Cuban point-of-view.
brother, family, love, patriotism