The story of Maria Nieves Rego and Juan Carlos Copes, giants and a legendary partnership in tango, is a fascinating one, as dramatic as a backstage musical or conflicts behind the scenes of any performing arts production and perhaps even more so. Despite being a dancing novice, there is something about the sexiness and fiery passion of the tango that is incredibly compelling to watch.
'Our Last Tango', documenting the duo and even the history of the tango, is one of those experiences where one learns a lot from it, cannot look away and really feels something watching. Some of it is bittersweet with the recollections but it is also very sincere and delightful. It is a little more in favour towards Nieves than Copes, but not in a way that's biased, his straying evidently caused a lot of hurt and understandably put a strain on the partnership but 'Our Last Tango' hardly paints him as a villain. Copes actually doesn't come over as that bad a guy and is quite candid.
Nieves is very personable, illuminating and entertaining when speaking, she can be grand-dame-like in her interactions with the dancers and choreographers when talking about mainly her technique and her personal life but one finds that endearing. It is very difficult to not shed a tear or two (perhaps more) when she recalls how strained the relationship got between them, one can sense that the memories are still painfully raw to her. Juan Malizia and Ayelen Alvarez Mino are very engaging, and their recreations of the duo's famous routines that helped popularise the dance exhilarate just as much as the real deal.
What we are told in 'Our Last Tango' is beautifully written and insightful, not just on the duo but the tango itself and its history. It was wonderful too to see archive footage of classic moments and routines that did Nieves and Copes justice in choreography and the way they danced it. The double gaucho on the tiny table tops is enough to take the breath away.
It is filmed very lovingly (especially the choreographic sections), paced beautifully (making the less than 90 minutes fly by) and the music exudes the necessary passion.
Altogether, a sheer delight. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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