Chico and Rita review by Alyse Garner - Cinema Paradiso
Fernando Trueba’s Spanish language animation set in 1940’s Cuba about the love affair between a pianist and a beautiful nightclub singer. The film follows the pair through the ins and outs of their passionate affair, including periods of separation, threats from an American businessman and two very different music careers.
The film is charming yet seductive; the hot sweet air of Cuba and the heat of the couples love sizzle on the screen whilst on the snow covered streets of New York the cold and pain is almost tangible. The characters are perfectly animated, the human form and architectural structures explored with simple yet precise lines, drawing beauty in every thing. Whilst the sexy Latin music surges almost non-stop through the film, emotionally animating the scenes in a way you would not expect. Often the film enjoys extended scenes with no dialogue whatsoever; these provide you with the opportunity to indulge in the sight of the rudimentary images on screen, bathing you in all their character and charm.
Watch out for a brief but wonderful stolen moment from another 40’s love affair, Casablanca, when “Play it again Sam” is cheekily followed by “My name is Chico.”
The story itself is one of simultaneous heartbreak and adoration, as Chico and Rita seem neither to be able to stand one another or live without each other. When Rita is offered a position in a swanky New York nightclub and Chico drunkenly sleeps through her departure it looks as though the two will never see each other again. Yet, as with so many love stories, their paths cross again and the story ends happily.