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María Elena Saldaña,
Young Cuban Rafael just buried his mother, and comes to Houston to meet his father John for the first time. The difficult part is that John doesn't know he is Rafael's father. John runs a dance studio, and everyone prepares for the World Open Dance championship in Las Vegas. It soon becomes clear Rafael is a very good dancer, and Ruby is the biggest hope for the studio at the championship. Written by
I saw this film by chance on cable TV. I was captivated from the start and stayed with it to the end (a major feat for a remote "trigger finger" like me). I read the cable synopsis and thought, "Uh oh! Cliché city!" But, to my surprise, this film was not clichéd and the film was like a breath of fresh air. The performances, for the most part, were true and honest. Chayenne (as Rafael, a Cuban émigré) is charming and acts well in his English-language film debut. Vanessa Williams is stunning, as always. And the music! Picante! The dance sequences are excellent and Chayenne is an excellent dancer as is Vanessa. Chayenne has a soulful demeanor and with his eyes and subtle facial inflections, he made me feel his loneliness as a stranger in a new land. Many times, I thought the film would sink into gooey sentimentality, but again, to my surprise, it rose above such obviousness. The best scene in the film is when Chayenne is caught in a lawn sprinkler system that turns on unexpectedly. With great charm and wit, Chayenne does an excellent homage to Gene Kelly, but with his own style and grace. A wonderful and funny scene. I recommend this film if you want to hear some great Latin music, see some great dancing and be captivated by Chayenne and the beautiful Vanessa Williams. By the way, Kris Kristofferson is very good as the man who gives Rafael (Chayenne) a place to live upon arriving from Cuba and who plays a key role in Rafael's adjustment to a new life in America.
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