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Film review: Our Last Tango

Film & TV

‘Our Last Tango’ is a documentary film about two of the most influential dancers in tango history and their 50-year tempestuous partnership both on and off the dance floor.

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Maria Nieves Rego and Juan Carlos Copes, both now in their 80s, began dancing together as teenagers in the dance halls of Buenos Aires. When rock and roll threatened to undermine the local tango culture, Copes formed a dance company to take performance Argentine tango abroad.

His Broadway stage shows brought international attention to tango. To audiences, Copes and Nieves’ passion for the dance and each other embodied the spirit of tango; behind the scenes, the relationship was as romantic and as tragic as the dance itself.

The couple’s story unfolds as a sequence of recollections, archival recordings and stunning choreographed dance performances that reveal the pleasures of seduction and love as well as the pain of betrayal and rejection, set against a background that moves from post-war poverty to the glittering theatres of New York.

Between both the real and re-enacted dance footage, Nieves openly discusses the past, sharing her memories and experience with the camera and a group of keen young tango dancers. Copes, however, is closed. As a result, the story is frustratingly one-sided and leaves the viewer with too many unanswered questions.

Produced by Wim Wenders (Buena Vista Social Club, Pina) and written and directed by German Kral (Musica Cubana, The Last Applause), Our Last Tango is a film for tango enthusiasts who are familiar with the work of Nieves and Copes. For those who are not acquainted with their story – or indeed the world of tango – the film lacks context.


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