A friend tells me she reads everything I write, unless it's about films. But this is a tango film...
A mysterious stranger wearing a white hat walks into a tango bar, full of beautiful women in fishnet stockings. There's a lot of dancing, but no po-faced stage tango, it's colourful, it's a fun film. A skilled dancer (Copello, who part-directs) dances with his favourite partner. The mysterious stranger invites her to dance, seduces her in dance. The skilled dancer attacks him... and is knifed. The stranger leaves. The stranger returns to dance again with the favourite partner... who knifes him. As he dies we discover he's a... but I wouldn't want to spoil the ending.
The dance includes social tango as well as theatrical numbers. The score is by Argentine-born Carlos Franzetti who, I discover, performs with well-known jazz musicians, writes for well-known film directors, and has also written operas, symphonies and concertos. The score includes straightforward tango as well as symphonic tango, with Nestor Marconi on bandoneon.
Franzetti talks in the 'Extras' about working with non-Argentine musicians. The subtitles say: 'It's very, very difficult to convey it to non-Argentine musicians. For instance, the double bass is played quite differently to the way it's played by symphonic musicians. It could take a whole year to teach this to a symphonic musician... It's said that tango is a way of walking through life. For me the most difficult popular music is tango because it doesn't have a constant vibe ('ritmo'). It doesn't have a constant rhythm like jazz, like Afro-Cuban music, like rock. The rhythm changes. It has rubatos, accelerandos, calderones, pauses.' (A 'rubato' is a slowing down. I'm not sure what 'calderones' are: translate.google says they are pilot whales, which doesn't sound quite right.)
The whole film is less than an hour, and the music carries it from start to finish, defines the characters, expresses the action, supports the dance. The film is just enough over-the-top; they had fun with all the cliches, and it's funny and a bit sad too.
“El tango es una manera de atravesar la vida.” Jorges Luis Borges.