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Our Last Tango (2015)

Production companies: Lailaps Pictures, Horres Film & TV, German Kral Filmproduktion
Distributor: Kinosmith (Canada), Strand Releasing (U.S.)
Director-screenwriter: German Kral
Producers: Nils Dunker, Dieter Horres, German Kral
Executive producers: Wim Wenders, Rodrigo Furth, Jakob Abrahamsson
Directors of photography: Jo Heim BVK, Felix Monti ADF
Production designer: Matias Martinez
Costume designers: Giselle Peisojovich, Cecilia Belsito
Editor: Ulrike Tortora
Composers: Luis Borda, Sexteto Mayor
In Spanish, 85 minutes.

'Un Tango Mas'Our Last Tango (2015) is a documentary movie that tells the life and
love story of Argentina’s most famous tango dancers Maria Nieves Rego and Juan Carlos Copes,
who met as teenagers and danced together for nearly fifty years until a painful separation tore
them apart. Relaying their story to a group of young tango dancers and choreographers from
Buenos Aires, their story of love, hatred and passion is transformed into unforgettable tango-
choreographies.

The movie engage and delight with exceptionally bold choreography and a unique
stylistic structure unlike any other documentary film. Sparks the imagination and draw on
emotions, much like the tango itself. Tells a somber but decisively not maudlin tale of its
subjects’ robust and dissolved love affair, sustained through a passion for tango.
This relationship-focused angle mirrors the art of tango’s power: after all, it takes two.
And if any dance style’s story can be told through the lens of intense human emotion and
interpersonal turmoil, it’s tango.

But what it will not do is what documentaries traditionally do: provide history,
information, and context. It won’t educate the viewer about tango itself, or exactly what the
profiled couple did that was so innovative. It’s clear that they are fantastic and had
impressionable impact on tango culture, but what isn’t clear is exactly how that impact came to
be. Are these things to which the film should have given more attention? Not necessarily. But
regular lay-people unfamiliar with tango, unaware of Nieves and Copes, might yearn for a little
more meat about the dance itself to better appreciate the couple.

Noted by Kenneth Morefield of Patheos, “One can hardly fault the Copes’ for not being
as expressive with their words as they are through their art. Or for not having as much footage to
provide as the younger generation. As a documentary profile, the film is just so-so. But as a
performance record, it is a blast. Even if you know next to nothing about dance–I can tell it is
tango by the music, though I’ve never danced a step–you can sense instinctively that you are in
the presences of elite artists” none of this is a knock.

Our Last Tango an absolutely engaging documentary, and it sets out to tell the story of
the couple’s relationship and convey their unbridled passion for dance. In that, it’s a complete
success and one of the most innovative documentaries in a while. But as noted, it’s not going to
teach anyone anything about tango. For instance, we find out that Copes created the “Copes
method” of teaching Tango, but don’t really find out what that is. Juan Copes was an obsessive,
driven, talented man who wouldn’t rest until he got to the top - and that’s exactly what happened.
But how? We’re frequently reminded that despite the couple’s personal issues with each other,
neither was ever able to find a partner better than the other. Why not? These questions don’t need
answered for the film to reach its goal, but may leave the less artistically-minded viewer in the
dark.

Still, as the Toronto International Film Festival’s website describes it, “we get a sense of
two people with very different personalities and expectations. They had trouble communicating
in their marriage, but onstage they had a synchronicity that mesmerized the world. They're still
dancing, even as octogenarians, only no longer together. Our Last Tango explores what it means
to pursue your passion, and how crucial it is to find the right partner.” To that, the film is
brilliant. Art isn’t always about facts and details, it’s about spirit and passion. That’s particularly
true with dance, and Our Last Tango is a beautifully unconventional documentary with a unique
perspective.

A impresive and sensitive portrait of a famous dance career.

They were tango's favorite couple, even after the divorce.


They were lovers, dance partners and two of the artists who did the most to take tango
from the streets of Buenos Aires to Broadway and beyond. But Maria Nieves Rego and Juan
Carlos Copes endured as much backstage drama as any friction-fueled rock band, dancing
together for years after they were divorced and hardly speaking to each other. Listening to their
story mostly from the side of the spurned wife and fleshing out her memories with transporting
reenactments, German Kral's Our Last Tango balances between a studious fascination with the
dance form's history and an embrace of the passions it stokes. Far more engrossing than the usual
doc of this sort, it should generate strong word-of-mouth from auds in Canada, where Kinosmith
opens it this week; Strand Releasing will bring it to the U.S. early in the new year.

Both dancers (now in their 80s) are interviewed for the film, which makes a dramatic
point of bringing them together one last time on stage. But Nieves does most of the talking,
offering a loved-and-abandoned perspective more suitable for tango's melodrama than that of
Copes, who remained a performing star for decades after leaving her for younger dance partners
and a new wife.

As Nieves recalls her impoverished childhood and early fascination with dance, Kral
offers artfully designed flashbacks on a soundstage; soon, we're watching as the young dancers
cast as Nieves and Copes interview her directly and discuss their career, and how to recreate it,
among themselves.

Those beautiful young dancers bring serious glamour to stories of the milongas where the
couple met and the grand Atlanta dance hall (now a skating rink) where they became a sensation.
The interplay between the subjects and the dancers portraying them continues, but grows less
romantic, as we hear of the next phase of their career: As other musical forms threatened tango's
popularity, Copes and others (like composer Astor Piazzolla, not discussed here) started to
envision it as Argentina's answer to American jazz, an art form that could be exported
worldwide.

The move from dance halls to worldwide theatrical stages invited showy inventions, like
the "double gaucho," which required Nieves, always terrified, to dance atop a small table.
Around this point, rather than chronicle the ins and outs of tour life and infidelities, the film boils
years' worth of drama into an affecting dance set-piece of love, lust and loss.

Viewers may well find their curiosity stoked by Our Last Tango, which leaves huge gaps
in its narrative in order to make its appeal to our senses. But like its title and its framing device,
in which the elderly stars make themselves beautiful, strut out to meet on an empty stage and
then part without having danced, the film knows that much of tango's hold over spectators lies in
what is withheld.