Fragil, a Short Movie that Complicates our Western View of Death

Lynn Cruz

From Fragil by Sheyla Pool

HAVANA TIMES – Sheyla Pool’s short movie Fragil is competing in the Havana Film Festival short films category.

Its title and lead characters would make you think that it was a story about everyday life where old age is shown in its most delicate state.

The routine of a daughter looking after her mother isn’t something new in Cuban film, especially among young filmmakers.

However, the movie takes an unexpected and unusual turn. The daughter chooses what she believes is the best thing for her mother. The opportunity to revive her, even if it is for a short while, as an alternative to her disease. A dignified death in the face of prolonged suffering.

This makes the movie stand out from a highly imaginative point of view. With this decision, Cuban director Sheyla Pool shows how family relationships break down. Brother-sister. Mother-children. Children-mother.

With the daughter injecting the elixir into her mother’s bloodstream, and the mother’s subsequent clarity of mind, we understand the son’s possible preference or the trauma that is caused because he is absent. The movie is full of subtleties, so you never fully understand the characters in all of their dimensions, which isn’t something we see a lot of in Cuban film.   

It also leaves us thinking about something that is always controversial, the opportunity of choosing death. Up to what point can you call something without a conscience alive? Isn’t love about dignifying others?

However, the crime always presents a moral problem. Once the spell ends, how will the daughter feel? Of course, these are answers that you take home with you. To tell you the truth, the decision to kill her stirs sympathy in the viewer and that leads to ambivalent feelings. On the one hand, the mother isn’t able to say anything so the daughter is committing a crime that can be punished by committing euthanasia.

Veronica Lynn and Teresa Sanchez give life to these two characters. They have been excellently cast, actresses with faces that reveal the marks of time, with a natural and unique beauty in a world that is being dominated by plastic surgery.

Playing with time and space, the story isn’t linear. Raul Perez Ureta was responsible for the somber photography. The soundtrack adds different levels to the story, and is this filmmaker’s forte.

Fragil is an invitation for us to follow this filmmaker’s work in the future, who clearly has a very personal vision about filmmaking.

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Lynn Cruz

It's not art that imitates life, its life that imitates art," said Oscar Wilde. And art always goes a step further. I am an actress and writer. For me, art, especially writing, is a way of exorcising demons. It is something intimate. However, I decided to write journalism because I realized that I did not exist. In Cuba, only the people authorized by the government have the right to express themselves publicly. Havana Times is an example of coexistence within a democracy and since I consider myself a democrat, my dream is to integrate this publication’s philosophy into the reality of my country.

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One thought on “Fragil, a Short Movie that Complicates our Western View of Death

  • The actress Anna Magnani once said to a photographer something to the effect: “Don’t hide any of my wrinkles, I suffered too much to have them”.

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