directed by Carlos Saura

Argentinean; subtitled

Carlos Suara is making a movie about Mario Suras making a movie about the history of Argentina, told through modern interpretive tango dance. High heels and flashy footwork reveal immigrants struggling, as well as the horrors of Juan Peron. Talk about having a private vision of your art. Mario’s girlfriend has moved out, the Mafioso backer wants his moll to star in the film, and Mario falls for her between rehearsals. Sadly, there is more plot development in that last sentence than there is in this entire 2 hour dance-a-thon.

The only things between this film and total oblivion is stupendous dancing, and even more stupendous cinematography. Every form of tango imaginable is danced to perfection, including the difficult and rarely seen “trio,” danced by three people simultaneously. They say the tango is nothing but thinly disguised coitus, and here, the disguise is particularly gauzy. Filmed entirely on a sound stage, ultra-luminescent lighting and surreally warped mirrors emphasized the dream world of history told through dance. The simple act of a woman walking across the stage was unimaginably beautiful, with techniques stolen from the German impressionist filmmakers of the 1920’s.

Behind the eye candy images and the best dancing south of Plata River is a film that intentionally avoids plot development, and a film that never presents a loveable or hateable character. Chances presented were many, chances taken nonexistent. Mario’s girlfriend leaves him, but continues to work in his film. So what? The mobster wants his girl to star. No problemo! If she moves in with Mario, I’ll kill her! IF I feel like it. Promising plots appear ever so often, only to be shooed away by the dancing and lighting. This is a classic art film — wonderful and disappointing at once, and in ways YOU never would think of.

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