‘White Tide: The Legend of Culebra’ Review: A Hard to Believe True Story of Comical Greed
This review is from the 2018 Rome International Film Festival.
The film opens with Andy, a pot dealer, who is wearing a cowboy hat and dark sunglasses (probably to hide that he is high) asking the question ‘If you knew where 2 million dollars was buried in the ground, would you dig it up?’ After asking the crew if they would, Andy says ‘ Fuck yeah I would. I did it one time.’ And so starts a documentary on a quest for 2 million dollars worth of cocaine buried somewhere in Puerto Rico.
‘White Tide’ is a documentary, using recreation scenes, telling a tale so bizarre and weird that’s it at times is hard to believe it really happened, and you continually question whether the main protagonists in the story are always telling the truth. Of course, this film takes place mostly in Florida with a cast of characters that only connected by their attempt to find the cocaine and bring it back to the states. The film starts out with the area’s resident hippie telling a story about when he lived on a small island near Puerto Rico. One day he finds a waterproof bag floating in the sea. When he opens it up, he finds over 70 pounds of cocaine. Fearful of the Puerto Rican police, he eventually buries it. When he moves to Florida, he tells the tale of the finding and burying the bag at just about every party or event he attends.
The main subject of the film is Ronnie Hyden, a businessman, husband, and father, who when the recession hits, and he loses his house, having heard the hippies story many times, decides to try to find the cocaine. The problem is that he has no connections to be able to sell that much cocaine. So he enlists his friend Andy, a pot dealer and drug user to help him. Andy then gets Ronnie in touch with a cocaine dealer anemd Dee, who is shady as hell. Not wanting to reveal his face, he wears a skull bandanna to hide his identity. Ronnie’s problem is that even if he finds the cocaine, how does he get it back to the mainland, as that much cocaine can’t go on a commercial airline. Dee puts Ronnie in touch with a drug runner named Carlos, who looks like he belongs in one of Ronnie’s favorite films, ‘Scarface.’ Ronnie flies off with Andy in tow to find the drugs and series of events happen that could have been a part of a mainstream Hollywood comedy.
Director Theo Love treats Ronnie with respect and doesn’t make him the bad guy. In fact, even though he is doing something stupid, illegal and dangerous, you can’t help but root for the guy. Ronnie, much like his hero, Tony Montana from ‘Scarface,’ just wants to get back on top for his wife and daughter. Ronnie is a likable, tobacco dipping, guy who has tons of charisma on the screen and Love uses that to his advantage, letting Ronnie tell most of the story. Andy, mostly is comic relief, as he struggles in his drugged out state to even tell the simplest of stories. At one point in the film Andy comically tries to remember the name ‘puddle jumper,’ spending almost a minute to try to remember the word. The fact that Ronnie takes Andy with him to Puerto Rico muliple times to find the cocaine shows how badly Ronnie made decision after decision. Instead of helping Ronnie, Andy forgets his drugs and gets sick throughout the whole trip. They can’t find the location of the drugs, forget to bring a shovel and spend more time at the hotel than looking for the drugs.
‘White Tide: The Legend of Culebra’ has plenty of twists and turns, quite a few of them are comical, to keep you interested and the film moves at a nice pace. I love how the first third of the film lets us slowly get into the lives of the Hyden family, their friends and Ronnie’s strange relationship with Andy. We really get to know the main participants in the attempt to find the drugs. Ronnie has few regrets, with, I think, the exception of trusting some people he didn’t know, taking them at face value, thinking they had the same business-like outlook that he did.
‘White Time: The Legend of Culebra’ is a wild, funny ride with Ronnie, a guy that is so out of his element that things have to go wrong and boy, do they.
My Rating: Full Price
My rating system from best to worst:
1). I Would Pay to See it Again
2). Full Price
3). Bargain Matinee
5). You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again
For more information on the Rome International Film Festival, go to www.riffga.com.