This Donald Glover Musical on Amazon Prime Seriously Exceeded My Expectations

*Warning: Minor spoilers ahead*

It's the kind of film that makes you long for a tropical getaway, complete with palm trees and stunning ocean views. Its musical numbers are enticing enough to make you want to dance in your living room and the vibrant characters put the biggest smile on your face—but beneath all that feel-good content lies a pretty sobering message.

What movie am I talking about, you ask? Well, allow me to introduce you to Guava Island.

The musical film, which has been streaming on Amazon Prime since 2019, popped up on my radar after I finished watching Sylvie's Love, and when I saw that Letitia Wright was in the cast, my interest was immediately piqued. I watched the trailer and assumed that Guava Island would be a cute love story with impromptu musical numbers and a happy ending. But upon watching the film, I was met with a thought-provoking tale that touched on some really dark themes—and I absolutely loved it.

The movie follows Deni Maroon (Donald Glover), a free-spirited musician who tries to bring his island community together by throwing a festival. However, this proves to be a challenge when he faces opposition from a powerful and wealthy businessman.

As impressed as I was by the performances and overall tone of this film, I must admit, it was a bit disappointing to see that Rihanna and Wright's talents were so underutilized (the Bajan songstress doesn't sing at all and Wright doesn't get much screen time). Still, I love that there are so many layers of meaning in this seemingly simple story. Read on to see why it's worth the watch.

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1. The Scenery Is Stunning

I could go on for days about the beauty of the film's fictional island, Guava. It's sunny, it's colorful and it offers plenty of gorgeous views. Although the location is known as "Guava" in the movie, it's actually set in Cuba, which has a pretty large population of Afro-Cubans, as seen in the film.

2. There's A Whole Lot Of Political Symbolism

I'll be the first to confess that I'm no expert at pinpointing clever symbols and references in films, but in this case, many of them were pretty hard to miss—especially when it came to the significance of certain colors. For example, it can't be a coincidence that Kofi's (Rihanna) coworkers at the factory don shades of blue while Deni's coworkers wear red. And it's definitely no accident that Deni happens to spot a blue bird in a locked cage while being confronted by an authoritative leader.

As for the meaning behind the characters' names...well, you'll just have to watch the full movie to find out.

3. "this Is America"

Back in 2018, Grover practically broke the internet after releasing the music video for his song, "This Is America." If you recall, it makes a brutally honest statement about how America uses entertainment to distract the public from deeper issues that hurt the Black community, from mass shootings to police brutality.

The same track was performed once again in Guava Island, and it was nothing short of brilliant. In its new context, however, Grover decides to speak out against capitalist greed—an issue that isn't limited to just one country. In the infamous scene, after a character reveals his dreams of moving to America to pursue a better career, Deni insists that "this is America," because "Guava's no different than any other country."

He also adds, "America is a concept. Anywhere where, in order to get rich you have to make someone else richer, is America."

While chatting with Rolling Stone, the film's writer (and Donald's brother), Stephen Glover, explained why this message is a major theme in the movie. He said, “It’s this idea of capitalism in America and how it’s left people out over the years. But at the same time, it has the power to empower you if you can wield it. The idea of capitalism and the relation that Black people especially have to capitalism is something that’s interesting to us.”

4. The Film Features a wide Pool Of Talented, Afro-cuban Artists

Fun fact: The film's casting team intentionally hired all Afro-Cubans to portray the locals and musicians in Guava Island, which isn't very common in Hollywood movies.

In a statement, while discussing what initially drew him to Cuba for the film, Donald Glover said, “I had the pleasure of experiencing this spirit of ‘making what you must with what you have’ collaborating with Cuba’s talented and abundant artists over the course of filming Guava Island."

He continued, "The artist’s endeavor has always been the manifesting of an idea, then forcing a society to recognize, or maybe just question, its value. These artists have not only inspired me to examine what we value on a day-to-day basis, but also to move with intention in the world with the childlike ingenuity that Cuba seems to offer every moment. I’m very proud to be able to share their stories.”

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Nakeisha Campbell

Associate Editor, News and Entertainment

Nakeisha has been interviewing celebrities and covering all things entertainment for over 8 years, but she has also written on a wide range of topics, like career...
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