Chico & Rita Movie Review

Like a soulful Latin song, this beautifully animated film tells a romantic story that's complicated by events over 50 years. The filmmakers both capture the place and time and offer vivid characters we identify with.In 1948 Havana, talented young pianist Chico (voiced by Ona) is mesmerised by singer Rita (Meneses), and after breaking down her feisty defences, they have a sudden, intense romance. But this is broken up by a woman from Chico's past and an opportunity Rita gets to travel to New York. Over the next five decades, Chico also travels to New York, and their on-off relationship continues as they follow separate career paths. Years later, Chico gets the chance to look for her again.

The story is framed by Chico's life in modern-day Havana, where the Castro revolution has left him as a shoeshiner. He's re-discovered by a Buena Vista Social Club-style documentary crew and real-life singer Morente, which sparks the story's moving final chapter. Rather then focus on the time period, the big social issues or the music itself, the filmmakers put the characters at the heart of the film, which keeps us hugely involved right from the start.

The Latin-infused jazz music is vividly meaningful (along the way we see Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Tito Puente and Nat King Cole), but we're drawn in by these complex people who don't always do the right thing. The connection between Chico and Rita is so strong that, even though it looks hopeless, we know they will have to meet again. And again. But with such vivid storytelling, it never feels repetitive.

The animation is simply gorgeous. It's so artful and detailed that it looks like the filmmakers shot the footage before converting it into striking hand-drawn images. Like Sylvain Chomet's The Illusionist and Richard Linklater's Waking Life, it uses deep colours and stunning settings add to the texture of the story. And the dark drama is tinged with genuine sensuality and playful humour, plus vivid action sequences. And while the gorgeous song score is an essential part of the film, it's the romance that really gets under the skin.

Cast & Crew

Director : , Javier Mariscal, Tono Errando

Producer : Santi Errando, , , Michael Rose

Starring : Eman Xor Ona, , , Estrella Morente, , Idania Valdes, Freddy Cole, Michael Phillip Mossman, Jimmy Heath, Pedrito Martinez, Amadito Valdes, German Velazco


Comments

Chico & Rita Rating

" Excellent "

Rating: 15, 2010

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