Frank (Richard Harris) is a lonely 75-year old retired sea captain living in Florida. Sitting on a bench park, he tries to start a conversation with another senior sitting across from him, but the fellow is immersed in solving a crossword puzzle and pays no attention to his small talk. Frank has stories to share, though. His best one is about wrestling Hemingway in Puerto Rico once. Nobody cares, however.
Looking back, he remembers good days; looking forward, he yearns to reunite with his estranged son and family. Loudmouthed, irreverent, tempestuous, this colorful Irishman meets his opposite in Walter (Robert Duvall), a methodical, quiet, and well-mannered Cuban whose daily routine involves solving crossword puzzles and buying sandwiches from his platonic love interest, young waitress Elaine (Sandra Bullock) at the neighborhood’s diner.
The two old men become good friends exchanging funny remarks and going on a few childlike excursions. They forget their age and loneliness for a while until their differences pull them apart. In one of the best scenes of this 1993 drama directed by Randa Haines, the friends have a heated argument in the middle of a hot sunny street where their obvious pain resurfaces.
Supported by great actresses Shirley MacLaine and Piper Laurie, the characters give us a story about growing old and coming to terms with one’s own shortcomings. Humorous at times, poignant at others, the film also contains a soundtrack of various classic Cuban guarachas and sons, including famous danzon Lagrimas Negras (Black Tears) by legendary Cuban singer Barbarito Diez. This music carries the storyline to its conclusion, one you will agree is more than just about wrestling Hemingway.
See directed by Randa Haines: Children of a Lesser God (1986)