Chico & Rita
Chico & Rita
Directors: Tono Errando, Javier Mariscal, Fernando Trueba
Writers: Ignacio Martínez de Pisón, Fernando Trueba
Voice Cast: Limara Meneses, Eman Xor Oña, Mario Guerra, Jon Adams, Renny Arozarena, Blanca Rosa Blanco, Jackie de la Nuez, Rigoberto Ferrera, Ken Forman, Ray Gillon, Lenny Mandel
Synopsis: Chico is a young piano player with big dreams. Rita is a beautiful singer with an extraordinary voice. Music and romantic desire unites them, but their journey - in the tradition of the Latin ballad, the bolero - brings heartache and torment.
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Hands down the best animated love story ever told in cinematic history
A few days ago, if you had asked me which animated feature presented my all time favorite love story for a cartoon, then I would've said Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" without any hesitation. But after watching "Chico & Rita", I might have to back track on that claim a bit. Not that I'm comparing those two films, as they're as clearly different as night and day. However, I was merely pointing out how emotionally powerful this movie is. One thing I should warn my readers though is that this isn't your family friendly cartoon, as there are depictions of sex and nudity throughout the movie. Therefore, if you go into this film thinking it's a harmless kid's movie because it's animated, then you're going to be in for a very big surprise. No, this is an adult cartoon if anything else.
Having said that though, I actually enjoyed this film quite a bit, as the animation is nothing short of breath taking. Although it's done in 2-D animation, it's still arguably one of the most visually stunning animated features out there. Featuring broad sensual strokes of the character animation, and fluent color scheme that fits perfectly within the film's style. I especially loved the New York scenes, in this movie, where it showed Chico's dreams of all these obstacles getting in the way between him and Rita, as the scene was shown as sort of a homage to Hollywood's earlier days; particularly "Casablanca." The animation flows perfectly in sync with the Latin ballad this film chooses to honor, as everything about this movie is absolutely stunning. In fact, I haven't been this impressed with an animated film since "The Adventures of Tintin." But unlike "The Adventures of Tintin" that impressed me with it's attention to CGI detail dealing with surrealistic style characters, "Chico & Rita" impresses me with it's level artistic flair of 2-D cel-shaded animation to portray a grounded story, along with realistic characters. Indeed, it's truly a masterpiece to watch; especially if you're a die hard animation lover like I am.
Unlike most people who usually tend to favor one particular style of animation over the other, I actually love all of them just the same, but I especially love the ones that use animation creatively; hence why it's a real treat to see such a great movie like this. Not only are the color schemes of "Chico & Rita" perfect in illustrating the beauty and texture of various parts of Cuba and New York, but I also loved how the CGI imagery was used to create almost a 3-D element to it, as it makes the film even more of a visual treat for the audience. Heck, I'd even be so bold as to say this film is arguably the third most visually impressive animated film behind "Rango" and "Adventures of Tintin" if you want my honest opinion. Indeed, if I wanted to, I could go on all day about how beautiful the animation is, but I think I've made my point by now.
As for the sound track to this movie, I have to say it fits the mood and tone of the film perfectly. Although I normally don't factor in songs from the film into my reviews, but I'd be lying if I said the sound track to this movie didn't touch me; particularly the main song originally titled, "Rita", but it's later renamed "Lilly." It's a very touching song that fits into the tone of this movie perfectly. In fact, the animation and sound track alone make this movie worth seeing, but what about the story?
Well, that's another great aspect this film represents. Unlike most love stories that settle for the same tired cliches that Hollywood has stuffed down our figurative throats for years, this one chooses a more grounded and realistic approach to it. Sure, the romance between Chico and Rita is obviously derived from the "love at first sight" concept, but unlike most movies that have used that same concept before, this one actually allows the audience to see them develop a coherent relationship throughout the movie. Not only do we see them during their times of happiness together, but we also see them at times whenever they're not so happy together as well. Indeed, it's a really a beautiful and endearing love story that sticks with you long after you see it.
The film essentially follows a young piano player named Chico, who lives in Cuba back in 1948. He has big dreams and aspirations to make it big someday in the United States, as all he's looking for is a big break. One night while cruising the town with his manager and best friend, Ramon, he ends up falling in love with a beautiful young girl named Rita. Although the two don't immediately hit it off, it doesn't stop him from trying to pursue her all the same. Eventually, the two end up spending a steamy erotic night together, as they immediately fall in love, but break up temporarily over a misunderstanding. Throughout the film, the two share an "on again" and "off again" type of relationship, where it's full of both happiness and heartache; hence I wouldn't recommend this movie for the faint of heart. However, if you want to see arguably the greatest animated love story ever told, then I'd highly recommend it.
Although I don't normally allow movies to get to me emotionally, I have to admit that "Chico & Rita" resonated with me deeply, to where I couldn't help but be touched by it. It's a very powerful film that's full of wonders, and style. Plus, if you have a deep appreciation for the history of Latin pop culture in society, as well as a deep appreciation for the history of films, then you'll definitely come to appreciate this film every bit as I have. It not only has a brief reference to "Casablanca", as I mentioned earlier, but it also has a references to various other classic Hollywood films as well.
As for the voice acting, I thought it was simply superb, as all the voice actors shared a great deal of chemistry during the movie. Overall though, "Chico & Rita" may not have the prestigious hype surrounding it that "Rango" has, but it has arguably every bit of a strong story and visuals as it's competitor to warrant it's Oscar nomination this year. Although the film is in limited release, as I barely managed to find a place to watch it myself, you might not be able to see this one right away. However, if it gets a non limited U.S. release any time soon whether it be in theaters or a direct to DVD/Blue Ray release, then I'd highly recommend anyone to check it out. Trust me, if you love animation every bit as I do, then you'll definitely love "Chico & Rita", as I'd give it a perfect four out of four.