Four Seasons in Havana introduces the novelist Padura’s Havana Quartet series of crime thrillers and his legendary detective and (one suspects) alter ego, Mario Conde, to a mass viewing audience. This magnificent, evocative Netflix miniseries was filmed in large measure in Havana, co-produced by Cuban and Spanish companies, and adapted for the screen by Padura and his wife, Lopez Coll. Conde, played by Jorge Perugorría, is middle-aged and emblematic of his politically disenchanted generation: he looks back with nostalgia at his more idealistic youth, drinks and smokes heavily, and jumps without commitment from one woman to another. But he nevertheless retains his sense of personal integrity and his courage. The books and the miniseries faithfully portray Havana’s working-class milieus, whose inhabitants have become accustomed to surveillance, opportunism, and official corruption. “Guys who rob and get away with it piss me off,” Conde declares as he uncovers illicit behavior in high places: collusion in drug trafficking, the misuse of offshore business accounts, the theft of confiscated assets. Postrevolutionary Cuba, it seems, is not quite as exceptional as its apologists—and critics—contend.
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