Love Is A Song You Never Forget: Chico & Rita

Love Is A Song You Never Forget: Chico & Rita

Static Mass Rating: 4/5
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Release date: 9th May 2011
Certificate (UK): 15
Running time: 94 min

Language: Spanish with English subtitles

Directors: Javier Mariscal, Fernando Trueba

Performers: Bebo Valdés, Idania Valdés, Freddy Cole

Soundtrack Review

Chico & Rita, a unique animated feature directed by Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal, uses the colour and bustle of Havana, New York, Las Vegas, Hollywood and Paris in the late 1940s and early ’50s as a backdrop to tell the tempestuous love story of a gifted songwriter, Chico (Bebo Valdés) and beautiful singer, Rita (Idania Valdés) chasing their dreams – and each other.

They first meet a nightclub where Rita is singing. Chico gazes across at her while she’s on stage, swept away in the vision of her beauty and the sound of her voice. It’s not long before they’re back at his place making love and in the sun-kissed morning, she sits naked next him as he plays the piano for her.

Chico & Rita

Their bliss is soon interrupted by another of Chico’s ladies who bursts in and a cat fight soon ensues between her and the still-naked Rita. She wants to love him but she knows he’s a playboy, with probably more ladies around town than he can really handle, but as the saying goes, “the heart wants what the heart wants”.

Chico and Rita eventually team up to make sweet music together, both on stage and between the sheets, as they take the Cuban rhythms to the clubs of New York, Las Vegas, Hollywood and Paris.

Their passion and heartbreak plays out to the sounds of Cuban pianist and composer Bebo Valdes who provides the score for the film, together with Idania Valdés, in the role of Rita, and Nat King Cole’s brother, Freddy Cole. Spanish flamenco singer Estrella Morente performs the beautiful bolero song “Lily”, also the film’s main song with Valdés at the piano and it’s a soaring moment that welds these fascination rhythms, passionate voices and intoxicating characters together.

Chico & Rita

Chico & Rita is beautifully visualised on screen by Javier Mariscal and Fernando Trueba. There’s also a wonderful homage to Casablanca (1942) when Chico dreams of being at the piano, tinkling to “Play It Again Sam” when Humphrey Bogart walks in and steals Rita for a kiss.

It might not be your average animated feature or musical, but it’s definitely something different and it meets halfway with a really beautiful story, reminding us once more that love really is a song you never forget.

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