‘Buena Vista Social Club: Adios’ review: Saying adios, seems like déjà vu

“Buena Vista” follow-up for completists only. Rated one and half stars out of 4.

Buena Vista Social Club: Adios” feels less like its own movie than a collection of film snippets swept off the cutting-room floor.

The characters from the 1999 film “Buena Vista Social Club” are included, with new backgrounds, storytelling and context. But a dramatic narrative of its own never takes hold. “Adios” is a film for people who have memorized the first film and 1997 album, and simply crave more.

The Buena Vista Social Club was a group of Cuban musicians who performed in the thriving 1940s and 1950s music and dance club by the same name. When American guitar player Ry Cooder, Cuban bandleader Juan de Marcos Gonzalez and filmmakers arrived, they found the group alive and still capable performers. The comeback album and movie by Wim Wenders was a history lesson and triumph of artistic spirit.

Movie Review ★½  

‘Buena Vista Social Club: Adios,’ Directed by Lucy Walker. with Compay Segundo, Ruben Gonzalez and Ibrahim Ferrer. Rated PG. 110 minutes. AMC Dine-in 10.


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“Buena Vista Social Club: Adios” goes backward and forward, gathering more background from the key players in the movie and discovering how the fame changed their lives. Huge crowds appeared after the album was recorded, and the movie was nominated for an Academy Award.

The oldest member of the group, Compay Segundo, performed live until days before his death at 95 in 2003. Keyboard player Ruben Gonzalez is shown being led to the piano and remembering the notes, even as he appears to have dementia. “So many friends have passed away,” he says, before his death in 2003. “I will play my last note in the grave.”

The new documentary is strongest when everyone is alive and it focuses on the immediate aftermath of the 1999 movie. It’s interesting to see…

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