You expect more of stars Robert Redford and Lena Olin, director Sydney Pollack and a $40 million budget than an uncredited and unpalatable rehash of Casablanca. In the early days of World War II, Bogey, as an apolitical club owner, mooned over gorgeous Swede Ingrid Bergman, who was married to underground leader Paul Henried, while listening to Dooley Wilson sing “As Time Goes By.” In the final days of Batista in Cuba, Redford, as an apolitical gambler, pines for gorgeous Swede Lena Olin, who is married to revolutionary Raul Julia, while listening to Sinatra records. Like Bogey, Redford rediscovers his ethics and realizes that in this crazy world the problems of three people don’t amount to a hill of beans.
Neither does this overproduced, overlong, overstudied movie. Despite the fortune spent on re-creating Havana, circa 1958, in Santo Domingo, the story never grabs us emotionally, as do Pollack’s best films (They Shoot Horses, Don’t They, The Way We Were, Tootsie). Havana suffers from the same prestige-film disease as his inexplicably acclaimed Out of Africa. Redford really tries this time, and Olin really is “seriously beautiful,” as the script claims. But there’s not a glimmer of sexual electricity between them. Nothing. Nada. And without it, you don’t have a love story. Some fundamental things still do apply as time goes go by.