“HORSES” ( “CABALLOS”) — Loyalty and Desire



Loyalty and Desire

Amos Lassen

Director Fabián Suárez’s “Horses” is the story of Robi, a young photographer who finds himself caught between the deep sense of loyalty he has for an older male lover and the desire he feels for an enchanting female singer he meets at a bar, just days before she leaves for Paris. I understand that the story is loosely inspired, in part, by photographer Robert Mapplethorpe who shot the iconic cover photo for Patti Smith’s 1975 album “Horses”. Suarez draws fictionally on those characters and also makes his own statement with unique characters that make up a poetic and metaphoric reflection on the nature of horses.


The film is about marginal characters with decadent scenarios. Lives are steeped in weariness and boredom and the days are played looking for luck. Suarez’s goal here is to delve into the contradictions of a society— immobility, loss of illusion, the collapse of the Revolution program. The film seeks to establish a clearly visible manner of ‘here and now.’. This is an auteur cinema and “Horses” is a new kind of Cuban film whose greatest strength lies in the exploration of form …


The film revolves around the thwarted longings of a quartet of artists in Havana: an ambitious photographer, a gorgeous model, a sullen DJ, and a wealthy patron of the arts who is dying of AIDS. These four lost souls come together at an evening soirée, hosted by the affluent Salomón (Pablo Guevara), whose health is deteriorating quickly. Introducing himself as “Mapplethorpe,” is lonely, handsome photographer Robi (Carlos Alejandro Halley) who has invited a striking model/musician named Galaxia (Linnett Hernandez) to Salomón’s luxurious apartment, where Salomón’s unhappy boy-toy Jairo (Milton García) is now reduced to being a caretaker because of Salomón’s affections for Robi. Jealousy, curiosity, and seduction come together in overlapping, intertwining love triangles at the center of the film.


“Horses” is filmed in black and white with several nods to Mapplethorpe and deals with themes of themes of post-revolutionary disillusionment and emigration as the four characters contemplate leaving their native Cuba, whether through death, exile, becoming marginal, or simply disappearing. The film gives us an unusual into our shared fascination with beauty and impermanence.

Horses leans toward “no passion” which is indeed unusual for a Cuban film that often goes for emotion at any price. It conveys a strong sense of melancholy and loneliness through cold sublime images perfectly.

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