Tango (1998) Poster

(1998)

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10/10
A Knockout Dance Movie
laurel1411 August 2005
Tango may well be the greatest dance movie ever made. Its stunning dance sequences, relentless tango music (orchestrated by Lalo Schiffrin)and throbbing sexuality place this film in a class by itself. There simply has never been anything like it. And, if you have any male hormones left and do not fall immediately head over heels in love with Mia Maestro than something is definitely wrong with you. She is what Audrey Hepburn might have been had Miss Hepburn been Latin and had a spectacular dancer's figure. But the entire cast is wonderful and the lighting and color are explosive. Go see it, then take the next plane to Buenos Aires. I did.
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7/10
One of the Most Wonderful Tributes to the Tango
claudio_carvalho27 July 2008
In Buenos Aires, the director Mario Suarez (Miguel Ángel Solá) is developing and rehearsing a tango play with historical events as background. Mario misses his mate Laura Fuentes (Cecilia Narova), who has recently left him, and is recovering from a car crash with an injured leg. When the major investor Angelo Larroca (Juan Luis Galiardo) asks for an audition for his lover Elena Flores (Mía Maestro), she succeeds and participates in the play; however, Mario falls in love for her and Elena fears the dangerous Angelo.

I saw "Tango" for the first time on 01 January 2001; I have just watched it again and I still believe it is one of the most wonderful tributes to the tango. Carlos Saura uses the concept that history is indestructible and recalls the dark years of military dictatorship in Argentina after the amnesty entwined with a passionate love of a middle-aged man for a young woman to build the plot, supported by stunning cast, choreography, music score and lighting. However, the conclusion is confused and disappointing, and I really do not understand the relationship of Angelo and Mario acting like pals in the last scene. Cecilia Narova and Mía Maestro are extremely beautiful and fantastic dancers, and I do not get tired of seeing them dancing tango. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Tango"
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9/10
An excellent and inspiring symbolic film.
Anonymous_Maxine2 April 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Tango deals with the different ways that people deal with the ending of romantic relationships. It shows that there is always something worth living for and that life goes on even though it may seem at times that there is nothing left to live for.

(spoilers) This film was all one man's story of how he dealt with having a broken heart, and how he recovered. It is an autobiography by Mario, the main character, who tells the story himself, which is made clear in the first few minutes of the film. Mario returns to find Laura, his ex, getting the last of her things, and he begs her to come back to him but she is happy living with another man. The dancing scenes in the film seem to show a way that Mario tries to escape from his emotions, but it backfires because he sees Laura there dancing with the man that she left him for. Whenever he sees her, everything else that is going on in the movie stops abruptly. There is nothing but the music, the dancing, and Mario's mesmerized stare. He seems to be in a trance every time he sees her, and he even has murderous visions. His mind seems to be so choked with emotional turmoil that he cannot function when he is in her presence, he is absolutely captivated by her.

When Mario finally meets another woman, it is a result of her dancing ability. In fact, the first thing that is spoken of her in the film is about her exceptional dancing skill. This is very effective because from this point on, she is seen as being superior to all of the other women, and she is focused on when she is in a large group, which makes Mario's romance with her more moving. She represents a new beginning for Mario, and she makes him forget about Laura, which is all he seems to want up to this point in the film.

There was one very quick scene worth noting because it is an exact example of what the film is about. Mario is at a dancing school where there is a classroom of young students learning to tango, and he is speaking with an elderly man. The man tells him that his wife recently passed away, and his life no longer has any meaning, he has nothing left. As soon as he finishes saying this, he looks across the room and his face breaks into a wide grin as he points his granddaughter out to Mario, claiming her to be the `best in the class.' This is a perfect example of the meaning of this movie! The moment after this man tells Mario that his life is meaningless because his wife passed away, he lovingly boasts the dancing skill of his granddaughter. His life obviously still has meaning because, even though his wife is gone, he can still watch this girl grow as both a person as well as a dancer. I hope Mario noticed this man's glaring miscalculation of the importance of his own being.

The surprisingly ironic ending of the film represented the fact that life goes on, and also that sometimes it is really necessary to end some relationships in order to be happy, even if it seems like the end of the world. Mario is very happy with this woman that he met, but in order for her to be with him, she had to break a man's heart just the same way as Laura had broken his. That man's heart was broken the very same way that Mario's was broken at the beginning of the film, which is very ironic because this man is in the exact same position that Mario was in after Laura left him earlier in the movie.

The title of this film refers not to a particular style of dancing, but to the emotional tango that people can dance with each other. Even though dancing is abundant throughout the film, it's not actually ABOUT dancing. However, the dancing did tie everything in the film together.

Another element that is particularly interesting is the way the camera is used. This is the first film I have ever seen that actually seemed to give the camera itself a bit of personality. In the second half of the film, the director did not seem to make the slightest effort to avoid filming the camera's reflection. There was even one scene where the camera was looking directly at itself in a mirror, which for some reason I find fascinating. I think that this was supposed to suggest that all of the dancing that went on in the film was all rehearsal for a play or some sort of live presentation, rather than people acting for the movie itself. This gives you a whole different perspective and, ironically enough, it makes the film seem even more realistic.
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8/10
High Praise for "Tango"
gunnrunnr27 April 2005
I absolutely love this film. I am not a huge fan of dance movies or musicals, but this creation is superb. The music, the dancing, and of course, the women are all beautiful.

Saura melds fiction & reality with all the skill he has shown in previous films, & Storaro's cinematography is, as usual, stunning. I purchased a DVD copy as soon as it became available & I have found the extras & the commentaries to be both informative & entertaining.

For anyone who loves; beautiful filming making, passionate dancing or erotic women, this film will fill all those needs. Buenos Aires, here I come!
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8/10
Strength and Grace
rmax30482322 September 2003
There's a scene in "Some Like it Hot" in which Jack Lemmon dances a tango with Joe E. Brown. The tune is a famous one, La Cumparasita or something like that, turned into an American pop song in the 1950s with English lyrics and named "Strange Sensations." Anyway, the dance is played for laughs. Well, it's understandable. The conventions of the tango seem so automated to someone used to other forms. But what surprised me here was the flexibility of the form, the way it is adapted to circumstances. There is, of course, a number here in which two or three dancers express intense passion, the emotion we usually associate with the tango. But there is also a number that is informed by humor. Suarez, who is about to direct a show featuring the tango, native to Argentina, is alone in his studio, talking to himself about the folly of falling in love, and he imagines a scene in which the silhouettes of two dancers perform a comic number, waggling their bottoms at the camera, the music bumping along in the background featuring a few strings and a flatulating tuba, itself an amusing instrument in sound and appearance.

Thank you for that tuba, Lalo Schifrin. As an Hispanic himself, Schifrin knows what he's doing. (He makes good use of the bandoneon, a kind of concertina, too.) There is a less-successful number that uses boots and military uniforms in an evocation of the period in the 1970s and 1980s when citizens of Argentina were "disappeared." There are tango-tinged encounters between men and others involving women, that are homosexual in effect. And sometimes there is no music behind the dances at all -- only the natural sounds of clothing rustling and soles squeaking on the wooden floor as the performers twist and turn.

Let me get back to that homosexual dance between the two women. One of them, if I got it right, is Suarez's ex wife, a superb dancer played by Cecilia Narova. The younger one is played by Mia Maestro. The dance ends with a sensuous kiss, and I can understand why another woman might want to kiss Maestro. I could understand it even if some twisted extraterrestrial whose native notion of esthetic perfection looked like the inside of an alarm clock wanted to kiss Maestro. She is egregiously beautiful, two-thirds Diane Venora and one third Audrey Hepburn, and sports what must be, even to the most jaded eye, a nearly perfect body whose movements are entirely under her own control. Her high kicks beat those of Eleanor Powell. And when her numbers freeze in tableaux, it would be perfectly okay if she just retained those balletic poses for, oh, say five or six minutes so we can burn the images into our brains. I don't think the human form and the suppleness of which it is capable has ever been displayed more elegantly. Not to put down Fred and Ginger. That's a different ballroom game.

The Spanish as spoken is appropriately Argentinian too, for what it's worth. The pronunciation is regional and so is the grammar. I say this out of complete ignorance of the language except for that which comparative linguists tell us. And a chat buddy in Buenos Aires. (Besos a vos, mi compaera).

The plot is nothing much. Abstract and arty and colorful. Saura's 8 1/2. Suarez, the benign director of a musical show, falls for Maestro. She is living with a Mafioso who is a dangerous dude, sub specie aeternitatus. But she tells the Mafioso off anyway and stalks off as he shouts after her -- "You're making a big mistake." If it did turn out to be a mistake we don't learn about it. The movie ends happily if trickily.

I want to emphasize that the dances are just about everything here. They bear about the same relationship to Lemon and Brown's tango as Fred and Ginger's superbly rehearsed dances do to the twist. There is one number by Maestro in which she does nothing but walk around slowly and strike an occasional pose. It's stunning in it simplicity and sensuousness. And in the duets, the dancers hold each other so close through so many acrobatic movements that, without stretching too much, I can imagine one false step bringing them tumbling to the floor wrapped up in each other.

The photography and lighting (by Vittorio Storaro) is superlative and the art direction equally so. Everything takes place in a carefully designed studio with mirrors and stages and painted backdrops scattered around. Sometimes we don't know if we're looking into a mirror or seeing the "real" scene. Nor can we always be sure that what we're watching is taking place in "real" life or in Suarez's imagination -- sometimes the imaginary turns into the real. But none of this detracts from our understanding of the film. The "double" structure is not simple directorial self display, nor is it just more hokum about "what's reality and what's illusion?". It adds visual texture to a film that already has more than a dozen Hollywood monstrosities could hold. It's really art, without quotation marks around it.
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A stunning homage to the tango and it's cultural and emotional importance.
Parksy16 September 1998
It's not often that I will give a film a perfect review, I'm just too picky. And let's face it, there aren't many movies being made nowadays that even approach perfection. I have just had the pleasure of seeing one such film. Director Carlos Saura and cinematographer Vittorio Storaro have again collaborated on a masterpiece. Similar to their last joint effort 'Flamenco', 'Tango' is both an examination of the music and dance of the tango and, more importantly, it's role as a reflection of the human condition. Saura and Storaro have gathered these elements and taken them, and the audience, one step further. Through skillful choreography, the camera weaves it's way through a maze of mirrors, lights, projected images and some of the world's best tango artists. The audience becomes a willing dance partner with their breathtaking eye and find themselves swept into their passionate vision.
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9/10
A Delight for the Senses
Dave-30027 April 1999
My, what a delight for the senses. TANGO has it all: imagination, consonance, balance, choreographical beauty, cinematic creativity, and...the Tango. The dance is beautiful. The music complements the visual magnificence of the film. Although the MATRIX crowd will find it less than stimulating, those with a more artistic appreciation for the nature of things will find it quite beautiful.
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Beautiful Everything (possible spoilers)
angelinastarr12 September 2004
Warning: Spoilers
I absolutely love this movie! It's one of my favorite foreign films to watch.

The very first time I saw this, I was actually looking for another tango movie. When I found out it was not the movie I was looking for, I almost changed the channel. The very first dance scene with Laura (Cecilia Narova) and the other guy she ends up with (whatever his name is) was so riveting that I literally could not stop watching this movie. It is so sensual and seductive that you can really see why people of all cultures enjoy tangos.

The colors of the set, the dancing, the music, even the story line is so enchanting that it's like you're there with the actors themselves.

If you're a fan of tangos, the music and/or the dance, you will love this movie. A person has to genuinely enjoy listening and watching because this film evokes all the visual and hearing senses of the Tango.

This film was beautifully done!
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7/10
I adore Tango music
ruthgee12 August 2004
The dancing in this movie was wonderful to watch. The posture of the dancers amazing. The colours magnificent. I found the tale fascinating. I believe what we watched was the film being made and the story told was what the director wanted us to see, because at the end, everyone was clapping and all were friendly.It was all make believe. The tale was not to be taken seriously, it was a play within a play.

On the otherhand what happened in Argentina many years ago was true and the way the director directed this sad time was very inventive. It showed through dancing the tragic story.
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2/10
This film is more than just color and dance...
mccolley231 January 2005
While so many have commented on the superlative dancing and the spectacular use of color, this film is not solely about dance. As he did in "Carmen", Carlos Saura invites us into a beautifully crafted melange of realism, impressionism, and surrealism to express the human emotions of love, betrayal, jealousy, fear and redemption. His melange results in a film that is an enigma wrapped in the sensuality, color and passion of a tensive tango that expresses his horror at the atrocities of Argentina's "Dirty War". This film is as much a political statement as it is a well-crafted masterpiece of cinematic art, color and music. In "Carmen" we never know when Antonio's real relationship with Carmen ends and the flamenco drama begins. So too, in "Tango", Saura sucks us into a reality carefully created to deceive us while at the same time it teaches us in colorful shades the subtle and sometimes unnoticeable differences between illusion and reality. Until the end of the film the viewer actually believes that Mario has lost Laura and found himself again in his love for Elena, who he suspects will be murdered by one of LaRocca's henchmen. Saura films the scenes with Elena and Mario at the restaurant and in the bedroom in a colorless reality that assures us that this is a real relationship. Thanks to set designer, Waldo Norman (Ricardo Mourelle), Mario is able to travel between time and space through color, particularly shades of red, giving the dream sequence in which he kills Laura a surreal affect. The devils of Mario's surrealistic subconscious are exorcised again in the graphic choreography of the torture and rape scenes depicting the "Dirty War" against liberals, students, artists, union workers, and intellectuals. In their acrobatic bends, twists and rolls, the dancers give us the impression of intense pain at the hands of their cruel torturers. Perhaps this surreal dance is the only way that Mario, and Saura, can deal with the horrific atrocities inflicted on the thousands of Argentine "desaparecidos" (the disappeared ones) from 1976 – 1983. Mario says as much in the bedroom scene with Elena. While holding her in his arms, Mario states that imagination is the only guardrail that keeps us from plummeting into the depths of horror and atrocity. It is after this scene that the "Repression Tango", Saura's balletic version of the horrors of the "Dirty War" takes place. Having experienced a choreographed impression of Hell, the viewer is jolted back to reality in the end, when Elena awakens from death to ask if she had played the scene of her murder well. The lights are on and the stage is bustling with actors and stage techs. Mario with his arms around Elena seemingly incredulous at her resurrection, realizes that he too for a moment was sucked into the artist's illusion, but now stands redeemed through art in a reality free of his inner-most demons.
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10/10
A manifestation full of passion, love and rhythm.
Kerosene5 July 1999
The spirit tries to get out all the senses that invade your soul, your body, your mind through an artistical manifestation. Once after seem this film you probably love the tangos or hate it, but you will discover in each song a magic instant full of color, of meaning and sense. Each step is impulsed by a fresh wind of change and nostalgia. A notable example of love to our ideals and passions, to our own way to be. A remarkable film.
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Stunning film!
mallard-615 September 1999
This is a stunning film. The score is dynamic--beautifully written and magnificently performed, with a shockingly wonderful presence in its new DVD incarnation. The color is gorgeous, bright, subdued, subtle, stunning--broad of range and magnificent. The dancing is incredible!

Add to this the magnificent variety of tango, and you have an undeniable winner!

And this in spite of the fact that the plot is rather slight, relieved finally and solely because of a rather Pirandelloesque twist at the end.
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Making Film Dance
tedg22 August 2000
I love this stuff. This film has weaknesses, but the ambition is so grand one can forgive, at least in deciding to watch.

The general problem is mixing film and dance. Rarely, oh so rarely is it done well. The stock choices are two: either film a dance more or less as an audience would see it, or to incorporate dance into the theatric presentation as a device. Either way, the audience is necessarily at a distance. And that's the problem: dance is human, to watch it (I'm talking about a performance here) you intimately participate in the space built and folded by the dancers. So by definition, most film/dance mixtures turn flat.

The solution here is to create an openly recursive storyline, mixing the dance as sometimes a filmed performance or rehearsal, sometimes "real" life, sometimes dreams or visions or imaginings. This combined with a never-rooted camera -- which sometimes plays the role of a character itself -- makes the audience part of the dance, and adds depth. The sets are designed to confuse: sloped floors, mirrors (used liberally) distortion, translucent screens and so on, further breaking the "performance" mold. On these terms alone, this is an intelligently conceived film.

I cannot say the same for the dancing proper. I think the film suffers from sticking too close to an Argentine palette, so the music and dance lacked breadth, and ultimately became repetitive. Whether the dancers were authentic, I cannot say. There certainly were exciting moments for me, but the dancing wasn't sufficiently vibrant to carry all of the scenes.

The Latin flavor was intriguing in the large: that the director would attempt such a self-referential conflation: national horror; angst of aging; layering of creation. Such a project would be considered outrageous in the US long before it is explored. And the Latin character was also interesting in the small: bigbottomed dancers and dumb, dependent women talking about how intelligent and independent they are.

Check this out. Not for the dance, but for a solution to filming dance.
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the philosophy of tango dancing
varkaris14 December 1999
If you like dancing in general,this film is for you. Carlos Saura tries to present the art of filming with all the necessary procedure in a tango atmosphere. Argentinian nostalgia in a plot where Mario,the director(after being left by Laura)will fall in love with the first in-line ballerina,Elena who is pursued by a rich gangster. The rest of the movie is a set of lessons on tango with all the fast changes in pace,watching the feet in a complicated backup of the relevant music.Symbolism takes precedence in this movie by the insertion of inanimate objects like the camera or the rehearsal chairs.A hymn to cinema,dance and their relation to life.
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6/10
Too many to tango
jotix10020 March 2006
Tango, the most sensual dance in the world, is one of the hardest things to capture by people that haven't experienced it first hand, as seems to be the case with the distinguished Spanish director, Carlos Saura. This 1998 film, in spite of its best intentions, feels flat, even to the unexperienced eye.

To make matters worse, Carlos Saura wrote a screen play that feels empty. Not even some of the inspired dance numbers lift this movie from the plot the director wrote. The story behind the film seems false from the start. It doesn't help that most of it seems superficial and contrived. The way the film was filmed, feels claustrophobic since it all takes place in as studio set. The film would have been more enjoyable if Mr. Saura had opened the film and brought it out to the districts of Buenos Aires where the tango reigns supreme.

Miguel Angel Sola, a good actor from Argentina, is seen as Mario, Mr. Saura's alter ego, perhaps, since he plays the director of the film going to production. Cecilia Narova, Mia Maestro, Sandra Ballesteros, Juan Luis Galiardo are seen in supporting roles. Juan Carlos Copes, a great dancer of the tango is seen in the film, as well as Julio Bocca, one of the best classical dancers from that country.
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6/10
Another musical excursion into surrealism
khatcher-216 March 2003
Carlos Saura, from Huesca in the north of Aragón, would seem to be bent on emulating Luis Buñuel, who was from Teruel in the south of Aragón. If we add that Francisco de Goya was also Aragonese and the singer Miguel Fleta also hailed from the Pyrenean province of Huesca, it should be clear that this region has produced some artistically important people, not forgetting historical personages like Catherine of Aragón who had her head lopped off in the court of Henry VIII.

The Buñuel-Saura tandem has produced some magnificent cinema, and it is Buñuel's surrealism which Saura frequently echoes, albeit using more modern techniques and technology. Whereas his films `Goya en Burdeos' (1999) and `Pajarico' (1997) (qv) have evidently more tangible story-lines to follow, `Sevillanas' (1992) (qv), `Marathon' (1992) and `Flamenco' (1995) are more documental, but not lacking in cinematographic effects by such geniuses as Vittorio Storaro and Javier Aguirresarobe. However, in Tango the matter becomes more complicated, as, supposedly, anyway, there is, or so we are to understand, a story-line to follow. The story is not clear: perhaps it was Saura's intention that each one of us should make up our own story! Better forget the story, whatever it might be, and concentrate on the visual aspects, as they are stunning. Firstly it is a kind of investigation into the art and philosophy of the afamed Argentinian Tango; secondly it an interesting musical appreciation, as most certainly Lalo Schifrin has done his homework, and the music that is not his – and there is quite a lot – has been wisely chosen, including even an extract from Verdi; thirdly the camerawork is of the finest to be seen. Storaro has played with luminosity, playing orange against yellow, magenta against purple, as well as using reflections in mirrors and glass panelling to tremendous effect.

In `Tango' Saura once again used music, as in `Sevillanas', `Flamenco' and to a certain degree in `Marathon' as the vehicle for transporting his visual concepts. The result in `Tango' as well as in `Marathon', is quite extraordinary, captivating, and, whether you are a great enthusiast of sevillanas, flamenco or tango or not – I am not – you cannot help but being satisfied by the result, though perhaps not so much in `Sevillanas' as it is a rather overhurried cursory glimpse at a subject matter which should have deserved more time.
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10/10
A visually stunning, complex work of art with a social conscience
Dick227 February 1999
This is the kind of film that reminds you what a powerful art medium film can be. In this story of a director putting together a dance musical, Saura creates a complex and fascinating narrative where the political and the personal intersect, all enveloped in a context of dancing and music that is stunning. It is not an easy film, but great art often isn't.
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Tango, glass, engulfed vision
chaos-rampant25 February 2014
It was a fortuitous accident that film evolved into a narrative medium. It could have gone down different paths. It started in the hands of its engineers as simple novelty, quickly abandoned - it seemed there was nothing left to discover. Men from the theater saw it as an opportunity to construct a stage and dazzle with effects. People wanted to be told stories though, deep stories about life, and there was money to be made, so that's where it swung to.

We lucked out because erudite minds who wanted to work in the new canvas had to puzzle about how it all amounted to a sort of life, create their paintings or music or philosophy in the midst of life. Film as a language would have been tremendously impoverished without this limitation, which is the same one we encounter in life: there is painting or dance only for someone whose senses they strike with curiosity or desire, who has a past and future life that they enliven, in other words a narrative.

So we have here a triumph of this language in its struggle to deliver a richer life than usual.

It is about dance, wonderful tango. But it can't be just filmed dance, dance itself is more than bodies to music. It is about desire, age, creativity, passion, loss, meaning; all the great dilemmas of life. But they have to be uncovered as life so there needs to be a narrative framework. We want in both cases to find human subjectivity in the dancefloor of its taking shape.

The story around these things is about a director who puzzles about a new show and passion in his life.

It starts with him on his desk narrating the film we see. It's followed by a hallucination of a male and female pair dancing in a dark soundstage, an old flame we have just seen walk out of his life and her new man. We have some obvious parallels of course: his eye as the camera, his face superimposed on narrative walls. So the point is that when we return to the soundstage the space is already charged with dimensions of memory and mind, internal space where the urges first come to life.

The space itself is marvelous and provides endless opportunities to create mind: blank or colored walls, slides and movie clips, painted skies where figures of history emerge from, endless rows of mirrors. We have of course the filmmaker as the protagonist ruminating on lost friends, cruel politics, senseless war and duty to memory. It's his show after all, the broader film, his space of expression.

What's so marvelous though is the conflation of inner life into dance. Desire as seeing and settling on her face among many. Couples dancing. Choreographed order. Piercing gazes locked together in tango. A tension that is both affected and yet real just then. Something inscrutable in the air that can only maybe danced out and never quite figured out more. Dance as looking for union.

All through the film we see the show take shape, the slow process. In one particularly evocative scene he blows air into empty dresses and this comes alive as inspiration, and this is followed by her stepping out from behind canvas screens to meet him. Soon there's danger that is foreshadowed for the end, an old boyfriend with possibly mob ties who is also funding the show, his heartbreak and loss mirroring the narrator's.

So the violence bubbling in the narrator has been merely postponed, what's the resolution?

It ends with the lovers' duel sublimated on the stage between dancers, this was a pivotal scene in one of Saura's previous dance films (flamengo there). The whole scene is a masterstroke. The key players looking, immersed, affected. An implicit tension that may be just the show. The dance ending with a knife's flash. The scorned man gets up and yells as if having her stabbed was a thought or an urge that he regretted only too late. (Saura could have made it more clear that the dancer who stabs her was also one of the funder's men, earlier he is seen escorting the girl to a car that has come to pick her up).

At this point it may seem like a trivial setup: reality shown to be fiction.

But the point is, as all of them walk out of the stage together, reconciled, enthusiastic, casually exchanging words, that all this emotional drama and hurt that was foreshadowed is seen with more distance to be a trivial fiction, an appearance on a stage, an illusion. Wonderful Spanish sensibility.

The last shot in context is one of the greatest I've seen, a Marienbad tracking shot through empty space towards glass, tentative reflection that engulfs our vision. Storraro excels all through the film, but here he surpasses himself. It's seen here as clearly as anywhere else that the film is in the company of Resnais, not Bob Fosse.

Something to meditate upon.
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9/10
A masterful film.
lplohmann17 June 2012
I writing this review as much for people who watched this movie already as for people interested in watching it: this is not a movie about tango.

This is, first of all, a movie about the making of a show. Many people seem to let this information escape, but we're subtlety informed about this from the very beginning. We're presented with the long process that goes in the head and daily work of director Mario. It's somehow a lesson of direction.

Second to this, the show being made is about Argentinian life. It's a story of birth, passion, illusion, violence, betrayal, forgiveness and rebirth. And it's a very dense and beautiful story.

And how is this story shown to us? It's shown by the way of tango, which then takes the central part of the movie.

Having told that, now I hope you may let yourself being involved by this movie and watch it differently. And that you really enjoy the masterful work Saura has done to give you this absolutely beautiful movie. His direction of camera, light, music and actors is simply stunning. I truly believe this movie puts him side-by-side with the great ones like Kurosawa or Kubrick.
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10/10
A film about Argentina, memory, and the future told through the language of dance
weredaleboy27 August 2006
This is a visually stunning film which is a reflection on Argentina and its history, film-making, the connections between the past and the future, and of course Argentina's great tradition of dance. To bring it all together and make it personal, the through-line concerns a film director's budding romance with a young dancer he has discovered following his traumatic split with a legendary dancer. But that's one element of the film only, and not necessarily its most important element. The film tells us of Argentine history, the prevalence, and even the reemergence of its archetypal themes through the generations, romance, passion, freedom, repression, violence, hope--all told in the language of the tango.

The cinematography is first-rate, the overlapping narrative elements (the love story, the story of film-making and its struggles, the story of Argentina in the 20th century, and the story of dance itself) is engaging. But the real reason to see this film is the dancing, which is quite simply stunning. Among the cast are dancers legendary not only in Argentina, but across the world. Mia Maestro, who plays the young up-and-coming dancer, has the exhilarating but probably terrifying job of dancing among all these professionals. While her own dance training is not as extensive as the men and women she dances with, however, she does a really wonderful job in her own dancing scenes--and only someone with significant dance experience will be able to spot the differences between her and the professional dancers.

In some ways, though, even these differences make sense in the context of the story. Elena is the young dancer, and part of the drama that Saura presents is her own evolution in the tango. As she learns more, she becomes more alive to her history and her identity. Her dancing deepens throughout the film.

And if you don't want to learn to dance the Argentine tango after you have seen this film, then you have no soul. Many thumbs up!
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4/10
Extremely Colorful & Extremely Boring
ccthemovieman-122 August 2006
Color-wise, this is one of the more stunning films I've ever seen. I only saw it on tape; on DVD this mus really look super. Storywise, however, it's one of the most boring films I've ever watched. What a shame.

After 40 minutes of Tango dance numbers and an absolutely nothing story, it begins to really drag and an hour later, it was no better.

Not only does this feature beautiful colors but the choreography of the dances is inventive, too, but only to point. It just goes on too long, way too long. The story is nothing but a director of this tango show falling for one of dancers - that's it, nothing more!

The film is mainly a vehicle for director Carlos Suara's colorful work to be shown off.
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8/10
Excellent dance sequences / Weak plot
Dr. M.5 April 1999
"Tango" is a variation of Carlos Saura's flamenco "trilogy" ("Blood Wedding", "Carmen" and "El amor brujo") in the sense that the plot is based on the same basic scheme: a performing company (director, choreographers and performers) plans and rehearses a certain work to be produced in the near future. In each film there are several levels of reality which inter-tangle making sometimes hard to distinguish if in a given moment an actor is talking/acting as an individual or as the character who the actor represents in the production. The resulting ambiguity (not always clarified by Saura) is then part of the understanding of Saura's work. Although other sources of inspiration are possible, Saura' technique may have been influenced by Luis Bunuel and other surrealists who also like to present confusing levels of reality, like the world or reality/dreams/daydreaming/fantasy/flashbacks of Bunuel's "Belle de Jour" or dream /reality in "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie". Let's remember that Saura admired the works of Bunuel, who as a good surrealist (and Freud follower) refused to admit that there are limits and borderlines between the different levels or layers of reality. In "Tango" Saura has replaced the flamenco dancing of the "trilogy" with tangos and milongas to present us the multilayered world of a film production based on those Argentinean dances. The plot and character development are secondary (and surely perceived as weak and schematic)since the main efforts are centered in the production of elaborate dance sequences. Instead of the average, aging tango dancers preferred in the Broadway production "Tango Argentino", Saura has opted for using in his film stars and good-looking performers who in their majority have extensive ballet training. The main exceptions are the performances by Maestro Juan Carlos Copes (Carlos Nebbia), who in the "milonga" (dancing hall) and in his interpretation of La Cumparsita provides a tango dancing which will surely please even the most refined tango aficionado. Some other sequences will be controversial to the tango connoisseur, like the "lesbian tango" and the male homosexual production number so expertly choreographed and performed by ballet star Julio Bocca. Other sequences are already presented in the film as controversial, like the "desaparecidos" dance sequence which offends some of the "film producers". Like in Saura's "trilogy", the dance sequences in "Tango" will please the dance fanatic, but will seem somewhat long and tedious to the average viewer. Everybody will agree, however, in the exquisite technique of the main dancers, especially Mia Maestro and Cecilia Narova, as well as in the solid acting performance by Miguel Angel Sola as the troubled director. In all, a serious and professional effort by Saura that surely deserves its Oscar nomination as Best Foreign Film and the many other international awards which have already received and will continue to receive in the near future.
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10/10
Sumptuous and Spellbinding
sugarmack29 October 2014
Carlos Saura is a genius, and Tango is a paragon of his artistic vision and cleverness. The staging (all in a studio) is wildly imaginative, with dazzling and stirring number after number. I didn't really care whether there was a storyline given how powerful the dancing was, particularly any time the character, Laura, was on screen. However, there is a very clever set of story lines woven together in an almost mischievous way, or as the young folk today would say, 'very meta'. In case the stories of Mario, his show and Argentina since the turn of the 20th Century weren't enough, the mirrored sets add an extra level of irony. The lighting and music are almost characters in themselves in this film, which is not to diminish the strong, subtle acting. I absolutely love this film, which left my mind blown as the final credits rolled.
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8/10
Tango (1998)
MartinTeller12 January 2012
Much like his flamenco films, Carlos Saura blends reality and fantasy in this story of a film director trying to make a musical, and torn between two women he can't have. Definite shades of 8 1/2 here, with a little bit ALL THAT JAZZ, although I'm not sure if any of it is Saura speaking autobiographically. He is a master at filming dance, though, and he captures all the graceful physicality in exciting ways. And with Storaro on hand, the movie explodes with vivid colors and dazzling lights. Not all of it is great (as in All That Jazz, I didn't care for the same number that the financiers didn't care for) but it's mostly very captivating and intriguing. Great dance, great music.
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6/10
A lot of art, a lot of tango
nicolas-prandi21 May 2011
This movie is one filled with rich artistic value as it contains much dancing and very elegant stage setups. The storyline is one filled with romance and lustfulness which revolves around the main character, his ex-girlfriend, and a young dancer. Therefore, if a viewer is not interested in such aspects, the movie is kind of slow. However, there is reason to recognize the beauty and creativity of many of the scenes in which elegant and complex dances are demonstrated in differently colored and arranged stages. On another note, at times it was a bit confusing to recognize whether a scene was portraying what was going on in the main character's mind or if indeed it was part of the story. In the end however, it felt as if there was no real need to distinguish these scenes as it was all so scattered and spontaneous.
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