Chico and Rita (2010)

Chico y Rita (2011)
Chico y Rita (2011) DVD / Blu-Ray

By Julio De Francisco (Two Beers) –

A shoe-shiner named Chico, once an up and coming pianist, reflects upon a time he fell in love with a woman named Rita, a beautiful and talented singer who he collaborated with many years ago.  Chico and Rita is a love story, set in Havana, rich with US-Cuban culture and relations, and full of the beautiful rhythms and sounds of Cuban jazz leading up to the 1950s Cuban Revolution.

A Toast

If you’re a fan of music and animation then you’re in for a real treat.  I raise a glass to Bebo Valdés, whose life’s story was used in part for Chico and Rita but most of all whose talent was used to score the film.  Born in 1918, Bebo Valdés is a Cuban pianist, bandleader, composer, and arranger who wrong and composed the majority of songs you will hear in the film.  I had never listened to Cuban jazz before and probably never would had it not been for this film.  His music aids in transporting you to a time in Cuba that was prospering before Fidel Castro’s revolution arrived.  The film, is in some part a history lesson, and from what I have read, accurate as to the way Havana looked in 1949 (Wiki).

Shoe-shiner, he is not.

In addition to the music, I tip my first glass of beer in the direction of the film’s conception of Havana and its animation style.  There’s a scene where Chico is trying to catch up with Rita who is taking a bus, leading you from a comercial area to a more residential one.  It captured the look, mood, and feel of traveling through the busy streets of Havana and the animation was a pleasant break from all the computer animated styles we’re growing more and more accustomed too.  Plus, there is a scene where Rita awakes in bed completely naked and accompanies Chico in the nude.  Before Rita got out of bed I wondered if the animators would be so brave as to animate Rita with pubes and all.  They do.  While at first I found it funny, the way a 7th grader would, I coughed out my immaturity and came to realize that this is one of the movies most beautiful and intimate scenes.  Lovers — in love — can be naked together, singing a love song in the buff.  When people can reach that level of intimacy together, it’s beautiful and there are no faults to it.

 Chico is not reading notes.

Beer Two

While the movie was mostly Cuban, the ending was American.  Chico and Rita would have been a lot better if it had not ended the way it did.  The love story, while very passionate at the start, gets into some turmoil and the film doesn’t end the way one would expect.  The story tests the lengths of true love and what we as an audience are willing to accept as being possible.  To say the least, you’ll want that second beer to make rolling your eyes at the end comfortable.


This isn’t an animated film you will want to watch with your kids or pop on when you’re babysitting.  The movie gets really boring for them (I’ve tested it).  If you’re not a fan of music, especially Jazz, you may get bored and if you don’t like reading subtitles (or don’t understand Spanish), it would be best to stay away.  However, the movie, for what it is, is a real treat and I would recommend it to anyone open to Latin culture.  I found it fun doing my own research into the background of the film and learning the true lives of Bebo and Rita (Chico and Rita) for which the movie was loosely based on.

Bonus Movie Drinking Game

Take a Drink: whenever Chico begins to play the piano.

Take a Drink: whenever Rita begins to dance.

Take a Drink: whenever someone speaks English

Take a Drink: whenever you see a cigar in someones mouth.

Take a Drink: whenever Rita begins to dance.

Take a Shot: every time Chico is rejected by Rita (careful with this one)

About Salvador Garcia

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