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ELIZABETH LOPEZ' REVIEW
RATING: A+

‘CHICO & RITA’ is the winner of the Best Animated Feature at the 2011 European Film Awards, the Goya Awards, Gaudi Awards, and a nominee for the 2012 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film. The Oscar®-winning director Fernando Trueba (Belle Epoque, Calle 54), Spain's legendary illustrator Javier Mariscal and Tono Errando’s collaboration is absolutely a beautiful film; its animation, story (screenplay by Trueba and Ignacio Martínez de Pisón) and music (Bebo Valdés). The storyteller’s passion for Cuban music and culture is quite evident and is told through a love story of passion and heartbreak.

It is set in Cuba, as an elderly man named Chico (Emar Xor Oña) is going through the motions of life in solitude. As the story evolves, he reflects to a time in his past in Cuba, 1948 when he is a young piano player with dreams to make it in the industry. He thinks his key to success is someone who can sing to his arrangements and one evening he hears Rita (Limara Meneses) when he is out with his buddy Ramón (Mario Guerra). Music and desire unite the artists, but it is not a smooth road to achieve their dreams.

The beautiful singer with an extraordinary voice is not so easily taken by him, but ultimately their paths cross from Havana to New York, to Paris, Hollywood and Las Vegas.

The songs in the film features the music of (and animated cameos by) various music greats and are performed by legendary Cuban pianist and five-time Grammy®-winning composer Bebo Valdés (Chico), Idania Valdés (Rita), Estrella Morente (self), Freddy Cole (Nat King Cole), Amadito Valdés (Tito Puente), Germán Velazco (Charlie Parker) among others. The original soundtrack is by composer Bebo Valdés.

The 94 minute film is in Spanish with English subtitles. It is hard to resist the temptation to get up from the theater seat and start dancing to the wonderful Latin and jazz rhythms, but the film delivers true entertainment in all aspects. If a live music venue is not on your schedule this weekend, then this is a great option for music enthusiasts. ‘CHICO & RITA’ opens theatrically in Austin on Friday, March 2 at Regal Arbor Cinemas. Azucar!


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