by Eileen Rivera
Boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, boy loses girl, boy finds girl again, and again. Typical love story? Maybe, but the animated movie, “Chico and Rita” takes it to a whole new level. Against a backdrop of 1948 Cuba, Paris and NYC, this film seduces the viewer with its sensuality, such that you forget you’re watching an animated film.
The film opens in present day Cuba, where we find an old man walking home from his job shining shoes. A glass of rum and an old love song, on the radio, leads to reminiscing. Chico, a relatively unknown pianist, meets Rita, a relatively unknown vocalist, in a smoky club. Chico is on a ‘date’ with an American tourist. As he and his friends are beginning their evening, a woman on stage begins singing and Chico’s attention is immediately diverted. Singing a bolero, Rita captures his attention such that Chico believes he would die if he couldn’t have her. Chico is a Latin jazz artist, a genre that was in its infancy in 1948. Out of his love for her, Chico writes a piece of music with a melody that pops up throughout the film and brings their love story to life. Jealous lovers and not-so-well-meaning meddlers interfere time after time to break them up, but in the end love prevails to a collective sigh from the audience.
With a Latin jazz soundtrack, I really wish the Grammy people would see this film, if only to get a taste of the proud tradition and rich sound of Latin jazz. Rita’s singing, voiced by Idania Valdes, can only be described as velvety. There is a richness and a depth to the singing that just touches the soul. The talent involved in this film brings depth and humanity to the story.
Check out this film, just send the kiddies to another room.
Copy Editor, Eileen Rivera.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of
the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.