Review: Our Last Tango

Review: Our Last Tango

By Kit Ramsey.

Our Last Tango (2015) understands that outside of the specific interest of tango and dance in general, audiences may have trouble engaging with a documentary specifically about two world class dancers. That’s why the film manages the extraordinary task of creating a hook to keep viewers engaged, by wrapping the subject of the tango in a magical docudrama that goes beyond what’s expected of it, weaving together universal themes of love, grief, ambition and arrogance in a way that keeps the narrative flowing.

Focusing on the lives, careers and love of Argentinian dancers Maria Nieves Rego and Juan Carlos Copes, the film has the sprawling sense of a historical melodrama, flitting between archive footage of the two dancers, reenactments of memory and fantasies, documentary style one-on-one interviews with the two subjects in the present and then real life sequences that come off as a mixture of all three. The main driving force of the story is mostly told from the perspective of Rego, though Copes does get his fair share of the spotlight as well.

We see her interact with various Buenos Aires-based young stars as she takes them through what can only be described as a series of half dance lessons, half oral memoirs. This choice of framing device is a stroke of genius as it adds a sense of wonder to what could have been a flat presentation if it were solely interview based. Indeed, the way in which Rego’s storytelling is performed with a sense of mythic romance is complimented by the art of the dance. The way it seems to organically come through, as if it were all part of the act, is what elevates the subject matter to a work of real artistry.

Overall while the initial premise of the film may not initially appeal to a wider audience than dance fans, the film is deceptive in that it transcends any potential pigeonholes of genre, and instead take the viewer on a  magical journey of two young talent stars as they navigate fame, tremendous talent and a turbulent love life. The combination of great story and glistening images of great cinema, from the glossy reenactments to the low-fi archival footage, makes this a great mixture of heart and spectacle.


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