This charming, affectionately crafted and gleefully unfashionable comic miniature from writing/directing troupe Abel, Gordon and Romy slips down a treat, even though its sugary tang doesn’t linger on the palate for very long. Dom (Abel) and Fiona (Gordon) are a gawky married couple working in a tiny rural school, he a gym teacher who militantly marches lines of children around the playground, she an English teacher with a bizarre canine fixation. When the school bell tolls, they let down their hair and run amok on the local Latin dance circuit. There’s a beautifully performed early sequence of the pair practicing their moves in an empty gymnasium, Gordon’s sinewy arms and legs contorting into all sorts of peculiar shapes, with Abel slithering and prancing alongside her. As in the work of Jacques Tati, who is an obvious point of reference, this scene manages to be both a joyous feat of physical comedy and a delightful example of the strange
pliability of the human form.
Alas, their terpsichorean bliss is short lived, as a freak car accident leaves Fiona with only one leg and Dom with chronic amnesia, and the film duly mutates in to a more bluesy romantic farce. Photographed in slow, deadpan takes and utilising the most torrid colour scheme imaginable, ‘Rumba’ delivers laughs that are hearty if infrequent, but its characters are too limited in scope for it to attain any real human depth. Yet there are tiny fragments of doe-eyed pathos that manage to rise above the screwball set-pieces, and they are rather touching.