Chico & Rita (2011)
84th Academy Awards 2012
Nominated for 1 award.
Nominated for Best Animated Feature Film (Fernando Trueba, Javier Mariscal).
Watched January 19, 2013.
Chico y Rita opens on old Chico (Eman Xor Oña) is his native Cuba, shining shoes during the day and listening to old school radio at night. One of the first songs that comes on is a classic by Chico and Rita. Cue flashbacks to 1948 where Chico is a cocky young piano player out on the town with his best friend Ramón (Mario Guerra) and two yankee tourist girls. Once Rita (Limara Meneses) enters and woos the whole room with her amazing, seductive voice, Chico is hooked and the rest of the film is preoccupied with their on-again-off-again relationship, fueled by passion and music and hindered by pride and fame.
The animation, for the most part, is exquisite. The lights and city skylines are breathtaking and there is one sequence when Chico dreams of New York that makes the rest of the film look plain and boring in comparison. Chico & Rita oozes culture. From the history and the post World War II society, to the jazz numbers that take up much of the running time, it is an educational and enlightening feature.
If the story stood up to the animation and music, perhaps it wouldn’t have seemed like such a long 94 minutes. Every reviewer I read had the wit to describe the story as a journey that follows a Latin ballad–the bolero. Perhaps the relationship between Chico and Rita was very cultural, because certain reviewers loved it. I, on the other hand, hated it. Chico was a decent enough fellow with great talent, but when it came to women, he was a cheating, verbally abusive womanizer. Although Rita also has her faults, her largest being a heaping dose of pride, she deserved much more than what he gave her. Their careers take them all around the world–from New York, to Hollywood, to Vegas, and even to Paris–and somehow they always found each other again. Perhaps it was because Chico reminded her of home, but the fact that Rita always went back to him baffled me.
Needless to say, I was not a fan of the story, and the story and characters are two aspects that make or break a film for me. I am also not a fan of R rated animated films. I might be blinded by my Disney and Pixar loves, but the use of sex, drugs, and profanity in an animated film is strange to me.
If it wasn’t for the animation, music, and incredible culture, I would have given this film one star instead of three. If you are interested in these aspects I would definitely recommend it, but other than that I was not a fan.