Article first published as DVD Review: Chico and Rita on Blogcritics.
Chico and Rita is an animated film which tells the love story of two musicians from Cuba. Chico is a very talented pianist in search of a singer who can match his ability. While out one night he spots just the woman he is looking for, Rita, whose voice is not the only thing he falls in love with.
The film is beautifully drawn by Spanish artist Javier Mariscal. It has a style which is a superb fit for the music and colour of the film; a loose, fluid animation to fit with the loose, fluid soundtrack.
Unsurprisingly, the music is incredibly important to the film. As much as anything else this is a love letter to the havana music scene of the late ’40s and ’50s. Infused within the narrative of the ever-changing relationship between Chico and Rita, is the narrative of the development of the jazz scene. In particular, the depiction of the genre’s most famous real-life musicians from the period adds authenticity to the scene it is trying to capture.
The relationship between Chico and Rita is very well handled. The film opens with Chico, now an old man, hearing one of the songs he performed with Rita decades before. Through flashbacks we discover how it is the two of them ended up separated, despite the strong bond that obviously existed between them.
Chico plays the romantic who charms ladies all too easily, but finds it much more difficult with the hard-to-get Rita. It is their passion, so evident in their music as well as their relationship, which drives the movie. This is an intense, tumultuous romance, with both characters having little control over their actions when they’re near each other. It is this passion that drives them both together and apart at various points in the film.
Chico and Rita is a delightfully animated romantic tale. Everything about the film, the drawing, the music, the characters are perfectly synergised to create a colourful, passionate celebration of cuban jazz.