Papa Hemingway in Cuba (2015) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • In 1959, a young journalist ventures to Havana, Cuba to meet his idol, the legendary Ernest Hemingway who helped him find his literary voice, while the Cuban Revolution comes to a boil around them.

  • Directed by the Producer of the Academy Awarding Winner "Crash and "The Illusionist", "PAPA Hemingway In Cuba" is a true story about the relationship between Miami journalist Denne Bart Petitclerc (Giovanni Ribisi) and legendary writer Ernest Hemingway (Adrian Sparks). Set during the Cuban revolution, the film co-stars Joely Richardson and Minka Kelly with a cameo by Hemingway's granddaughter, Mariel Hemingway. "PAPA: Hemingway In Cuba" was shot on location in Havana and inside Hemingway's estate, Finca Vigia. It is the first Hollywood film to be shot in Cuba since 1959.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • PAPA is a true story and follows journalist Ed Myers (Denne Bart Petitclerc) on his adventures to Cuba in the late 1950's after Myers' childhood idol, the legendary Ernest Hemingway, responds to his fan letter. Hidden away at a private estate with his wife Mary, the elusive author mentors Myers in fishing, drinking, and finding his voice, while the Cuban Revolution boils around them. In this turbulent landscape, beholding an icon in his declining years, Myers discovers his strength, while recognizing that all of our heroes are human.

    This film was shot in Cuba at the original story locations, including the Hemingway home which is currently maintained as a national museum.


    Added by PootyPootwell 2/1/2017

    In a Seattle department store at Christmastime in 1935, a father abandons his four-year-old son Ed. Ed grows up in an orphanage, growing up to become a writer, inspired by Ernest Hemingway.

    Now working as a writer on the city desk for the Miami Globe in 1959, Ed types out a letter of appreciation to Hemingway but puts it away rather than sending it. His colleague, Debra Hunter, finds the letter and encourages Ed to send it, but Ed says he doesn't know how to tell Hemingway how important his writings have been to him. Deb secretly mails the letter. Ed is later surprised by a phone call from Hemingway, who praises Ed for his letter and invites him to come to Havana to visit him and go fishing. Ed thanks Deb for sending the letter.

    Ed arrives in Havana and meet Hemingway on Hem's boat, along with Gregorio, Hem's crew. Hem teaches Ed how to fish and how to pilot the boat. Later, Hem and Ed go to the Floridita, a local restaurant and bar and Hem explains to Ed "the power of less" when it comes to writing. As an example, Hem writes a six-word short story on a cocktail napkin: "For sale, baby shoes, never worn." Recognized by the locals, they come to Hem for pictures and signatures. Hem doesn't complain but doesn't look pleased at the attention.

    On a second trip to Havana, Ed notices a heavy police presence as well as impoverished neighborhoods while driving through the city to Hemingway's sprawling estate, Finca Vigia ("Lookout house"). He finds Hem and his wife, Mary Hemingway, swimming nude in the pool and joins them for drinks.

    The Hemingways and Ed grow closer, and the older couple, knowing that Ed isn't it contact with any blood relatives, invite him to be a part of their family.

    Deb and Ed have started a relationship and go skinny dipping in the ocean together back in Miami. Meanwhile, political dissent in Batista's Cuba intensifies.

    On his next visit, Ed joins the Hemingways and their friends for a large meal. (One of the guests was played by Mariel Hemingway, Ernest Hemingway's granddaughter). Hem also invites children to play baseball on Finca Vigia's vast grounds, acting as umpire and pitcher and clearly enjoying himself.

    In downtown Havana one day, Ed and Hemingway witness rebels allied with Fidel Castro bursting into a street near Havana's Government Palace to confront soldiers loyal to the government of Fulgencio Batista. The two writers take cover, and retreat to a bar later when the violence is over. Hem dejectedly tells Ed how useless war is.

    In Miami, Ed reflects on this important time of his life, when his hero has become his mentor and friend. He knows that the political changes in Cuba are going to be major news and he is poised to be the one to write about it. He's approached by an FBI agent, John Fletcher, to ask Hemingway his opinion on Batista vs. Castro. Ed refuses.

    Mary calls Ed at 2:30am while he's in bed with Deb. She wants to make sure Ed will visit soon, as Hem has become depressed and Ed seems to list his spirits.

    At his desk at Finca Vigia, Hem loads a pistol and puts it into his mouth. When Ed arrives, Hem is talking and yelling at himself.

    Ed finds Evan Shipman, the poet and friend of the Hemingways, at the estate and offers to help him with his old, weeping war wound, on his chest. Evan explains that Hem has been distraught for several weeks, and that Hem's craziness may be part of what makes him a genius.

    Hemingway stands at his writing desk, with a blank piece of paper in his typewriter.

    Having drinks by the pool, Hem confesses to Ed that he's been trying to write about Hadley, his first wife, the only person he's only felt love from. He explains that he cheated on Hadley with the woman he would later make his second wife and that his actions were unforgivable. He encourages Ed to make his decisions about love carefully and consider all the consequences. He rescues a bee from drowning in the pool, placing it gently on the side.

    In Miami, Ed is quite busy following the story of the political changes in Havana and spending time with Deb. She encourages Ed to commit to her, but he doesn't think he's able to and flies back to Havana. While there, Mary explains to Ed that Hem has been depressed and moody, haunted by the ghosts of his dead friends. She's afraid that he will commit suicide, which he has threatened before. This time, Mary says, it seems worse than ever and she wants to throw him a big birthday party.

    Mary plans an elaborate party where guests will play some of the important people in Hem's adventuresome life. Ed is to play General Buck Langham, a commander from WWII Hem knew, and Evan plays an African hunter. She also invites Hem's other favorite people, including veterans from the Spanish Civil War and exiles.

    As the guests and characters surprise Hem in his living room, Hem seems to perk up a bit. At the large meal, he is happy telling elaborate, possibly exaggerated stories of his wartime exploits, yet grows angry when Mary contributes to the conversation. She belittles his war experience. Mary and Hem snap at each other, their guests ultimately unable to derail the escalating argument. Hem complains about the IRS, who he thinks is after him; Mary becomes angrier, and his guests become increasingly uncomfortable.

    Ed is distressed that his adopted family is fighting nastily. Mary gets even more angry when Hem gives one of his friends several thousand dollars to help his daughter in New York. The fight disintegrates; she calls him a bastard; he calls her a bitch like his mother; she accuses him of loving Hadley and philandering; he says it was a mistake; she slaps him; he throws his drink in her face. She runs to another room.

    One of the guests, Luis, is a physician and takes Hem's blood pressure and pronounces Hem physically healthy but recommends that he drink less. The men talk about the growing unrest in Cuba and whether they can safely continue to live there. At Hem's insistence, Luis also looks at Evan's wounds, which, as Evan already knows, have become gangrenous. Luis changes his bandages and leaves him with pain medicine, knowing that his wounds will only worsen.

    The guests all leave, except for Ed and Evan who are staying at the Hemingway estate. Evan tells Hem that he's had a good life and has no regrets, and Hem apologizes for being selfish. And even though he has never cared about the Lord, he'll pray for his old friend.

    As one of Hem's guests, the mysterious Lucas, drives through Cuba, he is stopped at a military checkpoint. Military and government officials seem to be watching him carefully.

    Ed finds Mary in a guest room at the estate and consoles her as she tells him how much she hates the idea of destroying Hem's spirit.

    That night, Deb calls Eddie and says she can't wait for him to love her anymore. When he doesn't respond, she hangs up.

    Ed quietly enters Hem's writing studio and removes the bullets from the pistol on the desk. Meanwhile, both shaken by the news of Evan's terminal illness, Mary and Hem reconcile.

    Even later that night, Ed is surprised to receive a call and a not-to-be-denied invitation to visit Sal Trafficante, the local head of the mafia. He is driven to a posh restaurant and bar. Trafficante thanks Ed for investigating his friend Sal Lopez and revealing that the FBI had framed him. He also tells Ed that the U.S. government is unhappy with Hemingway's politics in Cuba. Secretly, the bartender calls Hemingway to report that Ed is meeting with the mobster. The mobster leaves, and Ed watches a surreal scene in the restaurant as an older woman removes her wig around a table of handsome, young men.

    Back at the estate, Ed finds Mary and Ernest awake and explains he met with Trafficante. Hem is drunk and angry and calls Ed a double-crosser. Mary warns Ed to leave, but Ed tries to explain that he isn't conspiring against Hem with the mafia or the FBI. Hem punches Ed, who falls but then stands up. Ed explains that Trafficante is trying to help Hem, that the government thinks Hem is providing weapons to the Cuban rebels.

    Ed goes outside and sits in the raining, in more pain from the broken trust with Hem than the actual punch. Hem seems to come to his senses and joins Ed outside. Hem gives a heartfelt apology and Ed goes back inside with them. Hem gives Ed some ice, and Ed asks why the government is after Hemingway.

    Hem explains that one of his old friends used to work for the head of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover. He told Hem that one night Hoover and another man got him very drunk, put on women's clothes, and sexually assaulted him. The friend swore Hem to secrecy. But after the friend died, Hem had revealed the story to another party, and it got back to Hoover that Hemingway knew this damaging story. Thus the IRS and FBI probes and surveillance of Hem's life in the States and in Cuba.

    At night, the mysterious Lucas reaches another military checkpoint and, before he can reach for his own pistol, is shot and killed by one of the officials. In the morning, one of Hem's other friends calls Hem to tell him that Lucas has been killed and that Hem must move his accounts.

    Later that morning, Hem, Ed, Gregorio, and Mary are on the fishing boat. Hem tells Ed about Lucas's murder, while a Spanish-speaking military official watches from the shore with binoculars. Mary stands watch while Ed, Gregorio, and Ed dump large-sized weapons into the ocean from the boat's cargo holds. A Coast Guard cutter rapidly approaches with U.S. officials on it. They discuss how they will be pleased to catch Hemingway with weapons, and, even if they don't find weapons on Hem's ship, they will plant them there. The FBI agent, John Fletcher, says he will be glad to see Hemingway in handcuffs.

    Hem explains to Mary that he's been helping to carry weapons for Lucas, who is supplying Cuban rebels. The Coast Guard sends a small boat over and military personnel boards Hem's fishing boat. The lead tells Hem he appreciates his books but explains he has orders to search. Fletcher gives the order to plant weapons, but he sees Ed on the boat, and, knowing Ed can testify to the search not producing any weapons, gives up.

    Ed, Mary, and Hem arrive at the Floridita to a large crowd of tourists, photographers, and admirers. He pushes through to find the restaurant full of local friends wishing him a happy birthday. He seems pleased, especially after drinking a few daiquiris. He tells Ed he might break his record of 16 that night. He advises Ed to let his work get famous, not himself; he says it became much harder, nearly impossible, to write after winning the Nobel prize.

    On the ride home, Mary expresses her displeasure with Hem's repeated stories. Hemingway, staggeringly drunk, calls her a name, she calls him impotent and useless, and they begin another horrendous argument.

    Having a quiet drink with Evan, Ed says he doesn't understand how they can love each other one minute and say such horrible things the next. Evan explains that most marriages are like being under siege, that people are unwilling to set aside their egos to truly love another.

    That night, Hem huddles in the bathroom, miserable, with a bottle of alcohol.

    In the morning, Ed hears a commotion in the living room and rushes in to find Mary wrestling a pistol out of Hem's hands. Ed manages to grab it and tells Hem he will have to kill him to get the pistol from him. He says he loves Hem. Evan stands up and says he loves Hem as well and they won't let him kill himself. Hem lunges after the gun and wrestles it out of Ed's hands. Three people watch the fourth with a pistol. Hem says he wants to die but when Mary says she can't live without him, he soften and they embrace. Hem drops the pistol and walks into the other room. Ed looks beyond stunned. From the other room, they hear the sounds of Hem's typing, the first time in a long time.

    Ed is back in Miami, emotionally exhausted. He reflects on Hem's advice about thinking about what he wants. When he arrives at work, he walks straight to Deb, who tells him to go away. He kisses her and says he loves her. After a moment of hesitation, she kisses him back.

    In voiceover, Ed explains how important Hem was in his life. He reports that a year and a half later, Hem committed suicide with his shotgun in his home in Ketchum, Idaho.

    The final credits indicate that the character of Ed Myers was based on the real life of writer Denne Bart Petitclerc. After Hemingway's death, Denne and his wife moved to Ketchum to be close to Mary Hemingway. He lived there for the next 35 years. Denne died of cancer in 2006.

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