Chico & Rita is an epic romantic drama that follows the lives of two Cuban lovers as they fall in and out of love with one another over several decades. Emotional and engaging, the movie features a strong story and compelling characters. It is also an animated film.
A 2012 Academy Award nominee for Best Animated Film, Chico & Rita is now on DVD and Blu-ray and is well worth a viewing or two. In the movie, Chico (Eman Xor Oña) plays a popular but cocky pianist in pre-revolutionary Havana, who immediately falls for Rita (Limar Meneses), a beautiful and budding singer. Drawn together by their music, their romance blossoms, but their relationship comes and goes as youth, career aspirations and other factors get in the way.
At only 94 minutes, the film moves at a brisk pace and yet its scope is far greater than its running time suggests. The scenes where Chico and Rita interact are intrinsically believable, despite the fact that they are animated. Directors Tono Errando, Javier Mariscal and Fernando Trueba make you want them to remain together, which is more than can be said for many on-screen couples.
The only fault with the film is the animation itself. While serviceable and engaging in its own intentionally simplistic way, the animation is overly basic at time. As good as the film is, some of the emotional exchanges between the two characters are lost behind the basic artwork.
I've never been a fan of serious adult-oriented "cartoons" because, no matter how good they look, they would have been better as a live-action production. The same holds true with Chico & Rita: it's a multidimensional drama trapped in a two-dimensional world. And yet had it been a live-action film, Chico & Rita might have been just another forgotten period drama. Is that a price worth paying? Hard to tell.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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