Irish Film Review: Viva



DIR: Paddy Breathnach • WRI: Mark O’Halloran • PRO: Cathleen Dore, Rebecca O’Flanagan, Robert Walpole • DOP: Cathal Watters • ED: Stephen O’Connell • DES: Paki Smith • MUS: Stephen Rennicks • CAST: Héctor Medina, Jorge Perugorría, Luis Alberto García


What’s so very fantastic about Viva is how this movie is complete paradox: it’s a melodrama filled with gorgeous subtle moments; it’s a most depressing feel-good film; plus, it’s the least Irish Irish film gracing the big screen for some time.


Héctor Medina gives a quietly powerful performance as Jesus, a young hairdresser with a gig working at a Havana nightclub that showcases drag performers. Living a meagre and solitary existence, Jesus finds his voice when his mentor, Mama (Luis Alberto García), gives him an opportunity to perform onstage. However, when Angel (Jorge Perugorría), his estranged father, returns after 20 years in prison, Jesus is forced to make a choice between his role as ‘Viva’ and forging a relationship with this angry, alcoholic stranger.

Writer Mark O’Halloran and Directer Paddy Breathnach form a formidable team with a piece of work so far removed from anything either has done before; both stylistically and alternatively, this film stands very far apart from a laugh-a-minute gangster comedy or the black conversational humour we’re used to. These huge overarching themes of poverty, loss, family and toxic masculinity are explored through Viva‘s complex, truthful characters and their dynamics. This, alongside Breathnach’s impressive visual dynamism, brings tension, energy and vibrancy to every scene.

The universality of this small, truthful story is told so well meaning absolutely nothing in Viva is lost in translation.

Gemma Creagh

99 minutes
15A (See IFCO for details)

Viva is released 19th August 2016

Viva – Official Website 


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