Combining fiction and documentary, 66-year-old Carlos Saura directed this Spanish-Argentine dance drama with masterful camerawork by acclaimed cinematographer Vittorio Storaro. After his wife (Cecilia Narova) leaves him, Argentine film director Mario Suarez (Miguel Angel Sola), moves to a Buenos Aires suburb, and begins work on a film about the tango with meticulous care. At a cabaret, he encounters gangster Angelo Larroca (Juan Luis Galiardo), lover of aspiring dancer Elena Flores (Mia Maestro). Larroca asks Mario to audition Elena, but problems arise when Mario takes a romantic interest in her. Promoted as the most expensive Argentine film ever made, this production employed theatrical lighting and several cameras shooting simultaneously on a specially constructed set in Buenos Aires. Tango classics alternate with Lalo Schifrin's score. Famed tango dancers appear onscreen in dark dances depicting passions, sorrows, and the past history of Argentina, including a war ballet, as Saura noted, "We needed a scene that would be brutal, and a ballet that would be violent and aggressive, which we don't often see in musicals. It frightened me. There was a great deal of tension on the set because some of the dancers had loved ones who had suffered during those years, and the ballet re-creates the terrible feeling of the period." Shown out of competition at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival.
by Bhob Stewart synopsis