Chico & Rita (15)

Starring: Javier Mariscal & Fernando Trueba. Voices: Mario Guerra, Limara Meneses
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The Independent Culture

This animated charmer is a love story for all ages. Beginning in Havana in 1948, it charts the volatile romance between nightclub singer Rita and piano player Chico as they negotiate careers beyond their native Cuba.

She becomes a star of Broadway and later Hollywood, while he tinkles the ivories for Dizzy Gillespie's band in Europe, yet fate will push them together and apart several times along the way. The fluid draughtsmanship conjures the streets and clubs of 1950s Cuba with intricate beauty, and then surpasses it on switching to New York, where legendary jazz venues such as the Village Vanguard are given their due.

The star-crossed pair become victims of their own stubbornness, and later of the old-school racism endemic to American showbiz, yet the mood for the most part is exuberant, driven along by the composer Bebo Valdés's smoky jazz score. By turns wistful, passionate, indignant and melancholy, this is an exquisitely composed piece of storytelling.