Saturday, June 18, 2016

Chico and Rita

Directed by Fernando Trueba, Javier Mariscal, and Tono Errando and written by Trueba and Igancio Martinez de Pison, Chico and Rita is the story of a piano player who falls for a beautiful singer as they team up to make music. Told in a hand-drawn animated style, the film is an exploration of a couple falling in love through many different backdrops as it is set during the late 1940s to the early 1950s. The result is a gorgeous and exotic film from Fernando Trueba, Javier Mariscal, and Tono Errando.

The film is a simple love story set in Cuba between a piano player and a singer who meet at a club in the late 1940s where they perform and music together as well as fall in love. There, the two would each embark on adventures into fame and stardom only to fall very hard as the pianist Chico reflects on his past many years later as an old man who shine shoes for a living. The film is told in the traditional style of Latin ballads where a man and woman meet and fall in love but are undone by torment and heartache. The film’s script does play up that formula where Chico is a man that just likes to play piano and write songs as he’s not really interested in fame. The singer Rita is a woman with a beautiful voice that dreams of making it big as she would be the first to take the opportunity for fame and stardom. The narrative does play into the classic rise-and-fall scenario but it is told in a unique style as it says a lot to the melancholia and reluctant acceptance Chico would carry as an old man.

The film’s direction is definitely stylish in terms of the visual presentation of not just Havana, Cuba and New York City in what it looked like then but also in the different styles of hand-drawn animation with elements of three-dimensional computer animation. With the aid of animation directors Marcelo Fernandes De Moura and Manuel Galiana, the film is presented with an air of style in the animation as well as the fact that it is a film that isn’t afraid to be racy. Especially as it includes a sex scene and moments of nudity but it actually says something it shows how strong the relationship is between Chico and Rita. The animation would change gears for a sequence where Chico and his friend Ramon arrive to New York City as it is this weird fantasy scene while the rest of the animation in its character and set design remain very straightforward.

Especially in the latter as it captures every attention to detail about what these places looked like back then. The direction would also have these entrancing compositions to showcase images that play into the world that these characters are in. The usage of wide and medium shots as well as some close-ups says a lot in what is happening in the story as well as in the musical performances where Chico would encounter real-life individuals like Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, and Tito Puente. Still, it revels in what Chico and Rita would encounter in their ascendance to stardom but also face reality into what was happening in America. Even in the former as he would return to Cuba as he encounters a new reality that would force the story to go back to the older Chico and what he’s begrudgingly had become. Overall, the trio of Fernando Trueba, Javier Mariscal, and Tono Errando create a vibrant and ravishing film about a piano and singer’s love for each other and the music they created.

Editor Arnau Quiles does brilliant work with editing as it is very straightforward for much of the film with a few montage sequences that play into Chico and Rita‘s own respective successes. Sound editor Pelayo Gutierrez does amazing work with the sound in the way some of the instruments sound as well as recreating sounds of tires and such to play into the atmosphere of the places the characters are in. The film’s music by Bebo Valdes is incredible for the mixture of traditional Cuban music and Cuban-jazz as well as bits of American jazz music that Chico would encounter as it includes a lot of music from the American jazz artists of the late 40s/early 1950s.

The film’s voice cast include some notable contributions from Lenny Mandel as Rita’s manager Ron who takes her to America and Mario Guerra as Chico’s friend Ramon who would later be his manager. The duo of Eman Xor Ona and Limara Meneses give phenomenal voice performances in their respective roles as Chico and Rita to play into the fiery personality of the two as well as their sense of passion for the music and each other.

Chico and Rita is a sensational film from the trio of Fernando Trueba, Javier Mariscal, and Tono Errando. Featuring gorgeous and sublime animation, a touching story, and a sumptuous film soundtrack. The film is truly a gem that explores not just two people’s love for music but also each other during a time where the world around them is changing. In the end, Chico and Rita is a remarkable film from Fernando Trueba, Javier Mariscal, and Tono Errando.

© thevoid99 2016


ruth said...

Oh I've been meaning to see this one for ages. I love the look of the animation, and glad to see the story is wonderful too. "a touching story, and a sumptuous film soundtrack" Alright I'm sold!

thevoid99 said...

It's really a gem to seek out as Mark Kermode has been singing its praises for years. Now I know why he loves it so much.