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TANGO LESSON, THE

SYNOPSIS:
On a trip to Paris, filmmaker Sally (Sally Potter) meets Pablo (Pablo Veron), a tango dancer. Entranced by the dance – and the dancer – Sally asks him to teach her to tango. After a short trip back to London to try and work on her film projects, she visits Buenos Aires and learns more from Pablo's friends. Sally and Pablo meet again but this time their relationship changes; she realises they want different things from each other.

"Evocative and thought provoking, The Tango Lesson is visually stimulating cinema, bringing together elements of music, rhythm and dance as a parody for acceptance of self, roots and expression of the soul. It is an unusual film, which exudes mystery and ambiguity, and while the plot is undefined as such, we all embark on a journey of the spirit that crosses barriers of language, colour, body movement and cinema. I suppose the rationale for there being no subtitles (even though the film is in three languages), is that the thrust and meaning are self-evident. I speak French, so I was able to understand the nuances; had I not, I would have been aggravated to have the detail excluded from my grasp. While self indulgence and pretentiousness in itself are not necessarily such negative things in art – Barbra Streisand has crafted such works that are forgivable due to her overwhelming talent - Sally Potter’s shortcomings are accented here, instead of her (considerable) talents and abilities. By placing herself in such a large spotlight, her lack of facial expression and somewhat internal performance does not sustain fully throughout the film. Yet there is much to enjoy in The Tango Lesson, which is absorbing, involving and engaging. The tango itself is a sensual, provocative dance that combines the joy for living with a haunting melancholy. There’s fantasy, aspiration, ambition and realisation and acceptance of self in this beautifully filmed journey, which delivers a multitude of emotional responses including an overwhelming joy of living reflected in dance."
Louise Keller

"Strictly tango? Hardly. It feels very much like a self indulgent way for Sally Potter to pay for her tango lessons (12) with an exuberantly costumed (Priscilla inspired?) subplot-cum-counterpoint about an excessively gaudy film she wants to make – for $20 million, no less. The scenes of this nascent film – which never eventuates – are the only ones shot in colour and have a camp, decadent feeling that further distances the already distanced viewer. At first, The Tango Lesson has a pleasing idiosyncrasy about it, and visual flamboyance, but this soon wears down into something that looks as though Potter is trying too hard to be a brilliant, self effacing yet self centering poet of the screen. There is no plot as such, and the film lacks conflict, until it’s too late (and too little); her own screen persona is wafer thin English – with too little going on. The romantic development is a bit clumsy and in all, the film fails to carry us into the world of either the tango or Potter’s personal life. I know some people find it fabulous, and perhaps you will, too."
Andrew L. Urban

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 0

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SOFCOM MOVIE TIMES

See Andrew L. Urban's interview with

SALLY POTTER

TANGO LESSON, THE (PG)
(UK)

CAST: Sally Potter, Pablo Veron, Gustavo Naveira, Fabian Salas, David Toole, Carolina Iotti, Carlos Copello, Peter Eyre, Heathcote Williams

DIRECTOR: Sally Potter

PRODUCER: Christopher Sheppard

SCRIPT: Sally Potter

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Robby Muller

EDITOR: Herve Schneid

MUSIC: Potter with participation of Fred Frith

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Carlos Conti

RUNNING TIME: 102 minutes

In English, French, Spanish

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Globe

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 26, 1998 (Sydney)







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