Fires Within (1991) Poster

(1991)

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Potentially Good Film Ruined by Awful Editing
chthon210 February 2003
Isabel (Greta Scacchi) is a Cuban refugee who escaped with her daughter to Miami, but was forced to leave behind her husband Nestor (Jimmy Smits). Nestor was taken prisoner by Fidel Castro's communist government and has not seen his family since. Sam (Vincent D'Onofrio), a young fisherman, saves Isabel and her daughter from a raft and the two fall for each other. Years later, Nestor escapes Cuba and arrives in Miami, eager to see his former family. Not only must Isabel choose between her estranged husband and her intense, somewhat frightening American lover, Nestor is being pestered by politically motivated Cubans who want him to continue working against Castro.

The story to this film is a promising tale of torn romance. What makes it better than most is that there are too choices which must be made: Isabel's choice between mild mannered and familiar Nestor or the short tempered Sam, and Nestor's choice between his wife and his country. This is ruined, however, by choppy editing and a whole slough of unnecesary sex scenes. I'm sure the director must be saddened to see her work turned into some marginal picture about a woman who the editors turned into a mindless f***-doll.

Scacchi's performance was very real and convincing, making the poor editing all the more unfortunate. Smits, who is quite a talented actor, seems like he must have been sick or something while they were filming, because he's sort of like a zombie in this movie; no fire seems to burn within him (pun intended). D'Onofrio gives another extreme performance which is good for people like me who enjoy what critics call "over acting". Good premise, but ruined in the cutting room. Worth watching once.
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8/10
slim but reasonable film
leslieann-125 June 2006
Beautiful film that is skewered not only by the distracting editing, as your previous commentator mentions, but also by the confused message...anti-Castro Cubans in the USA are numerous, but we have learned - often from the movies, like Scarface or that excellent film about a gay Cuban poet who flees Cuba - that there are many ambiguities in that life - they are simplified and reduced here too much. Isabel is very passive and perhaps traumatised to an extent that is not really illuminated. it is a terrific idea that the Cuban husband is a mild-mannered type and that the American who saved her from the sea is hot - interesting to watch; in fact, also, it is the American (d'Onofrio) who makes the point of the film, that is so under-stated and ambivalent - that the Cuban husband must choose between politics and his family. the film is interesting and exasperatingly under-stated. this could have been developed into something far more intriguing - one other good point: it is fascinating to see Hispanic Miami in all its glamour and tawdriness, however. overall, the film is really underdeveloped.
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8/10
I'd have chosen Sam over Nestor any day!
Xeresa621 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I have to agree that both Greta Schacchi and Jimmy Smits were emotionally passive in this movie. Perhaps that is why Vincent D'Onofrio seemed to overpowering the other two actors since he was portraying his characters emotions with a power and intensity that the other two were lacking! I never doubted in this movie that Vincent D'Onofrio's character had fallen in love with Greta's at first sight, and it was clear that he had been the de facto father of Isabel and Nestor's daughter since she was a toddler. Sam was anxious to marry Isabel and adopt her daughter legally,but it was clear that Isabe;'s fears and cultural mores were making her ashamed of not remaining faithful to the emotional distant husband who had chosen to remain behind in Cuba rather than be with his family. Isabel and Nestor's marriage was dysfunctional as the marital scenes in Cuba show--- Nestor consistently put politics above his family and their safety! Ithink if Isabel had followed her heart and thought of her emotional needs, then she would have chosen Sam,but she let a combination of pity,duty, and the fear of gossip in the Cubam community to make the choice for her. If it had been me, I would have married Sam the first time he asked me, welcomed Nestor back, and allowed him access to his daughter, but would have made it clear that my new life was in America and I had no desire to return to either Nestor or back to Cuba! The main reason that the movie failed was that every woman left the movie thinking "What an idiot!" about Isabel's choice.
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