Let the Dance Begin [Empieza el baile] — HSBC Spanish Film Festival 2023

Review by Michele E. Hawkins.

Carlos (Darío Grandinetti), famous tango dancer of yesteryear, arrives back in Buenos Aires to attend the memorial of Margarita (Mercedes Morán), his equally famous dancing partner of old.  There he is reunited with the duo’s steadfast old friend Pichuquito (Jorge Marrale).  Carlos, having left Argentina and the life he enjoyed thirty years earlier, is now a man who is consumed by his work and family in Madrid, a life that leaves little room for joy.  He has become somewhat dour and closed over the years, and is certainly not interested in reliving what once was.

But sometimes life gets in the way of our plans: instead of staying in Buenos Aires for only a day, Carlos is talked into taking a journey to a small rural town by Pichuquito — a journey that changes lives forever.

From the back streets of Buenos Aries to the wide vistas of rural Argentina, the film takes the viewer through an external landscape that often mirrors the inner landscapes of the three protagonists as old grievances arise, antagonistic habits resume, and revelations creep out.  Whatever the young, famous, and “on top of the world” Carlos and Margarita and their friend Pichuquito once imagined their futures held for them, life delivered up something entirely different.

Bittersweet in comparing past and present, Let The Dance Begin draws the viewer into the inner lives of three people bound by a past that has defined them.  The beautifully crafted characters are laid bare with believable compassion until, with everything out in the open, real love, friendship, understanding, and acceptance emerge to overcome all else, providing a rewarding demonstration that, though the triumphs and disappointments of our youth may mark us for life, our present choices continue to define who we are.

Screening at Palace cinemas.

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