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Chico & Rita (2010)

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Chico is a young piano player with big dreams. Rita is a beautiful singer with an extraordinary voice. Music and romantic desire unites them, but their journey - in the tradition of the Latin ballad, the bolero - brings heartache and torment.

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Title: Chico & Rita (2010)

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 8 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Limara Meneses ...
Rita (voice)
Eman Xor Oña ...
Chico (voice)
Mario Guerra ...
Ramón (voice)
Jon Adams ...
Renny Arozarena ...
Blanca Rosa Blanco ...
Jackie de la Nuez ...
(voice) (as Jakie de la Nuez)
Rigoberto Ferrera ...
Ray Gillon ...
(voice) (as Michael Harper)
Lenny Mandel ...
Ron (voice)
Jorge Ryan ...
Claudia Valdés ...
Ashley Albert ...


Cuba, 1948. Chico is a young piano player with big dreams. Rita is a beautiful singer with an extraordinary voice. Music and romantic desire unites them, but their journey - in the tradition of the Latin ballad, the bolero - brings heartache and torment. From Havana to New York, Paris, Hollywood and Las Vegas, two passionate individuals battle impossible odds to unite in music and love. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

piano player | piano | singer | cuba | love | See All (62) »


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






| |

Release Date:

19 November 2010 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Chico i Rita  »

Box Office


€9,200,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$20,654 (USA) (10 February 2012)


$247,455 (USA) (16 March 2012)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


See  »

Did You Know?


In order to help accurately represent 1940s era Cuba, Javier Mariscal undertook an extensive research trip to Cuba and was able to view government archive photographs from 1949. See more »


The kitchen in which Chico and Rita eat kidney-bean soup is in the United States. However, a European-style electrical outlet can be seen clearly on one of the walls. See more »


Chico: Have you thought about your career? About your future?
Rita: Future, what future? The future never gave me anything! All my hopes are set on the past.
See more »


Featured in The 84th Annual Academy Awards (2012) See more »


Love for Sale
Written by Cole Porter
Performed by Idania Valdés and Chico & Rita New York Band
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

lovely - story&music&animation all work together
25 March 2012 | by (Ipswich MA) – See all my reviews

My local art house showed this, with subtitles (much better than an "English language dub" rumored to appear later), shortly after the Academy Awards. The music -both all the new compositions and some old charts- is wonderful. The story is simple and straightforward, without irony or intricate plot twists or a breathless pace: boy meets girl in the golden age of jazz, and their troubles go on for decades - sometimes art tugs romance, sometimes romance tugs art, and sometimes romance and art tug in opposite directions.

What caught my attention the most was the evocative and interesting animation. Initially it all appears to be "retro" traditional 2D hand drawn cel animation. Characters are composed of areas of uniform colors (a second darker color for the shadowed parts of each block), while background areas have variegated colors (for example wood grain). Backgrounds are extremely detailed and very specific, sort of like a kid's crayon drawing.

I especially noted the incredibly detailed street-scapes with all their readable (not just greeked) signs. Turns out the directors found a trove of archive photos of every street corner in Havana - the city government had assembled it in 1949 to help with street repairs.

Some of the CGI special effects I've come to expect to be merged with hand drawn are included: curling cigar smoke and falling snowflakes. As well there are several other CGI techniques that aren't as familiar to me: gauzy curtains with an embroidered pattern wafting in the breeze; shafts of light with an identifiable source and a direction illuminating not only themselves but also bits of the dark places where they fall; dynamic shadows that change as characters move; lighted signs whose parts change from "on" to "off" and back to "on" at different times.

But on closer examination it doesn't feel like it's really just plain old traditional 2D hand drawn cel animation after all. One big giveaway is that nearly every scene has the complexity I'd expect only at the film's peak: for example movements of dancers _and_ of the band and their instruments _and_ other patrons _and_ people outside _and_ the traffic. Typically there's simultaneous movement in so many different planes I gave up trying to identify layers. The scene where an automobile disassembled itself into thirty or so pieces that fly off in all directions in slow motion would be a tour-de-force for traditional 2D cel animation, but here it's just part of the flow. Nor am I used to seeing an animated audience applauding where every single hand is distinguishable and seems to move separately. In one scene an auto drives around the corner we're looking at - static street-scape, moving auto, just standard 2D cel stuff, right? But wait! The tire is drawn a bit lopsided, and it retains that bulge as it rotates's not redrawn! So could you have a tire on its own cel separate from the car and move it so it appeared to rotate? Theoretically maybe, but not likely. And, once in a while the camera takes flight and the whole scene rotates continuously and smoothly as the point of view moves. Other things must be going on here.

Information on YouTube and elsewhere on the web doesn't go into a whole lot of detail about animation technique, typically not mentioning much more than that the apparent animation style is what was common in the period evoked by the film. Software ("ToonBoom Harmony") shared the animation pipeline so about 200 animators in 11 studios in six different countries (Brazil, Spain, Isle of Man, Latvia, Hungary and Philippines) could collaborate easily. (That software also enabled the collaboration on "The Secret of Kells" a couple years ago.) Additional software ("HoBSoft", now very closely integrated with ToonBoom Harmony) provided very easy pipeline task management; in software terms it can be thought of as an additional layer on top of ToonBoom Harmony. "Final Cut Pro" and "TVPaint" software were also deeply involved in the production.

As they describe it: "The entire movie is filmed with live action actors. -The sets include dummy objects and tracker marks for camera tracking. - The live action shots are edited in Final Cut Pro and becomes the live action version of the animatic. - Approximately 2 frames of every second of live action is traced in TV-Paint and becomes the drawn version of the animatic. - The traced frames are printed on paper, pegged and sent through a classical 2D hand drawn production pipeline with rough animation, key animation, clean up, ink & paint and compositing. - The live action shots are used to create backgrounds in either 2D, 2-1/2D or 3D where 2-1/2D refers to 2D elements positioned in a 3D universe. - All 2D animation and coloring is done in ToonBoom Harmony". Most often a 2D process was used; yet 3D was necessary in several places.

My interpretation of their words is the process was somewhere in between i) giving photos to animators for "reference" and ii) brute force motion capture. Also, it sounds as if (I'm not certain) the live action film was _automatically_ rotoscoped by the computer and became the "first rough draft" (the "animatic").

Although neither outlines nor still characters visibly keep moving, the characters have a little bit of the "dizzy" feel of something done with Bob Sabiston's "Rotoshop" that practically defined avant-garde animation a decade ago (backgrounds are rock solid though). In closeups the facial features keep morphing a bit, as though an in-betweener had drunk too much coffee. And once in a while a character's face freezes completely, almost as if an in-betweener had just plain forgotten to produce a few cels. (I hoped to find out a bit more, but the "freeze frame" button on my DVD remote doesn't do anything when I point it at the theater screen:-)

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