Chico & Rita (Fernando Trueba, Javier Mariscal, Tano Errando, 2010): UK / Spain

Reviewed by Yuichi K. Viewed at Egyptian Theatre, AFI Fest 2010.

“Sweet love songs always make people passionate.” Our lives are always with many songs. Songs support situations and feelings. Everyone has a favorite song that makes them happy when disturbing things come up. I watched Chico and Rita, directed by Fernando Trueba, Javier Mariscal and Tano Errando, at AFI Fest 2010. I knew this romantic animation movie had splendid critics from watchers. It was more than my expectation.

The story begins in Habana in 1948. Chico (Voiced by Emar Xor Ona) and Rita (Voiced by Limara Meneses, and sung by Idania Valdes) meet at a small square in a local town. Chico is a pianist, and Rita is a singer.  One day, they have a chance to join a radio program competition. They win, but Rita decides to go to New York.  Chico keeps playing in Habana, but he also decides to go to New York with his desire for Rita. After Chico reaches New York, many difficulties arise between them and they miss each other. However, one song from radio that they could win in Habana named “Lily” ties them together. At last, Chico is involved in a crime and is deported to Cuba. Many years later, Chico has a chance to play with a young singer. He remembers Rita. When he is in Las Vegas, he finally finds Rita’s room and falls in love.

This film is filled with a romantic song named “Lily” in the story, for Rita. The score has been arranged for each scene. Especially, the orchestration is great. It arouses every kind of emotional senses in the film. In addition, it’s also match with the beautiful animation. The movements are very seamless and effective as if audiences experience as the same story of Chico and Rita on time.

One of the directors, Fernando Trueba was awarded Best Foreign Language Film with Belle Époque in 1993 by Academy Awards. The music is also good. According to the review from Toronto International Film Festival, “The film is also rife with jazz history. Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie are seen playing the clubs and the story of Chano Pozo, one of the first Latin percussionists to grace a major American jazz band, is fluidly interwoven with the narrative. Chico and Rita is a tribute to Trueba and Mariscal’s long love affair with the music, culture and people of Cuba.”

This nostalgic animation “Chico and Rita” must inspire people very much. It’s a great work that audiences become happy.

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