A really lovely film about three friends kicking about on their roof. With that aimlessness that follows after leaving high school, it kinda reminds me a little of Ghost World. These pals spend their time talking shit and coming up with ideas of what to do with their future.
Victor Jose, nicknamed Vito, goes on about his supposed Sicilian ancestry. His grandmother told him his grandfather was a Sicilian who came to Cuba without a cent and built up an empire of businesses around their block. Although likely untrue, Victor has an entrepreneurial spirit, seeing opportunity everywhere, and never deadened by setback or disappointment. Over the course of the film he uses his resourceful Cuban attitude to build a makeshift pizza restaurant on the roof.
Anita’s already pregnant, which she seems surprisingly chill about. While she’s confident about being able to cope as a single parent, she’s wistful for nice things for the baby. She’s scrubbing up hand-me-downs of hand-me-downs, and it would just be nice to buy the baby new stuff.
Of the three of them, Yasmani is the most frustrated. Looking after his own pigeon coop, he struggles to see himself making it, being the first to find the flaws in Victor’s plans. He longs for the hot lassie on the terrace below, and gets snippy with the local grifter who comes by trying to sell clothes. He’s outward-looking, seeing with clarity what they don’t have. But he may be missing what he does have, including the quiet love of Anita.
The roof is basically just the close, but on top of the building. The kids use it to go from house to house, catching up on the news, helping neighbours, running errands. Everybody’s up there, hanging out washing, watering plants, or sunbathing. Victor, Anita and Yasma spend their time there bumming about, taking selfies, and practicing dancing.
While this film is about young adult rudderlessness, it’s not a film about impotence or hopelessness. The exact opposite, it is about resourcefulness, imagination, and the support of friends, family and neighbours. While the circumstances may be Cuban, the feelings are identifiable anywhere.
Well-shot and well-written, On The Roof is a film which excludes quiet camaraderie in the face of the difficult transition into adulthood. Really nice film.