Chico & Rita (15)
Time Out rating:
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Time Out says
Tue Nov 16 2010This lush and nostalgic animated gem from Spanish artist and designer Javier Mariscal and his compatriot, director and music producer Fernando Trueba, feels like a perfect melding of two distinctive sensibilities to produce a single, impeccable piece of craft. A potted history of the golden age of jazz in the 1940s and ’50s underscores a passionate, globe-hopping love story between Chico, a cocky but endearing jazz pianist, and Rita, a honey-toned chanteuse. They first lock eyes in a Havana dive bar, but opportunities for both of them to realise their dreams and take their music across the globe puts a strain on their romance.
Coming across like a homage to the kind of pulp melodramas Hollywood was producing at the time (‘A Star Is Born’ especially), the epic sweep of Trueba’s heart-tugging story is anchored in Mariscal’s gorgeous cityscapes: pre-Castro Havana is a cosy tangle of mottled wood and Tropicana rhythms, while the towering skyscrapers of New York and the sprawling soundstages of Hollywood emphasise just how far – artistically and emotionally – our lovers have come.
The music binds the film and gives it a special cachet: Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Chano Pozo and Ben Webster make cameos, and their jazz styles are fondly emulated by Cuban pianist Bebo Valdés. Even Wim Wenders pops up during the epilogue while forming the Buena Vista Social Club. There are moments when a surfeit of in-the-know references tend to overshadow the romance – but you’ll find it too charming to care.
Author: David Jenkins