Chico & Rita, is an epic, animated love story set within the splendour of Cuban culture, history and music. Beginning in 1948, Chico & Rita tells a tale of passion and creation worthy of a bolero, the Latin America ballad of anguish and heartache.
Chico is a promising young pianist who spends his evenings taking American girls to Havana’s latest hotspots with his friend Ramon. He discovers Rita’s exquisite voice at a nightclub and the two quickly become enamoured. Their new love is interrupted the following morning by Chico’s girlfriend, Juana, and Rita flees, vowing never to see him again. Luckily, Ramon convinces Rita to enter a radio contest with Chico and the two quickly resume their love affair by beginning a musical partnership.
When an American producer, Ron, approaches Rita with a contract and an offer to travel to New York. A misunderstanding with Chico leads Rita to accept the offer. Soon afterward, Chico sells his piano and follows her with Ramon in tow. Rita, now Rita LaBelle, is becoming increasingly famous, and Ron, increasingly possessive. With a little help from Ramon and the Cuban Revolution, Ron succeeds in keeping the lovers apart.
Old Havana is recreated with masterful fervour; the filmmakers use warm, bright hues to capture the charms and vibrancy of this captivating city. The palette shifts towards a monochromatic tone when the narrative moves to New York, and the result is a striking contrast between differing cultures.
The film is also rife with jazz history. Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie are seen playing the clubs and the story of Chano Pozo, one of the first Latin percussionists to grace a major American jazz band, is fluidly interwoven with the narrative. Chico and Rita is a tribute to Trueba and Mariscal’s long love affair with the music, culture and people of Cuba. —TIFF
Spanish director of light, frolicsome comedies with classical characters and story structures. Trueba had directed features and penned screenplays for a number years, starting with “Opera Prima/First Effort” (1980) unbeknownst to Americans save film festival attendees. This changed with the release of “Belle Epoque” (1993) which snagged a 1993 Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film. A story of a young soldier who stays with a painter and his four beautiful daughters, the film illustrated Trueba’s desire to entertain through well-scripted comedies. His signature films include “El Ano de las Luces/The Year of Awakening” (1986) and “The Mad Monkey” (1989), his English-language debut, starring Jeff Goldblum.
According to Trueba, his influences include such diverse auteurs as Billy Wilder, Jean Renoir and Woody Allen. Trueba started out as a film critic for a Spanish daily before founding his own film magazine, “Casablanca”, in 1980. He has also produced several films including “Lulu… read more