A young Cuban piano player becomes enamored with a gorgeous
singer, whose career takes her to America and away from him.
Chico & Rita (2010)
Directed by Tono Errando, Javier Mariscal, Fernando Trueba
Written by Ignacio Martínez de Pisón and Fernando Trueba
Starring Eman Xor Oña, Limara Meneses, Mario Guerra
Oscar Nominations - Best Animated Film
There's always one or two animated movies at the Oscars that most moviegoers haven't seen. And that's not me disparaging the films themselves. It's just a market that's severely dominated by Disney, Dreamworks, and Illumination. Plus, if you don't have the Criterion Channel, good luck stumbling onto Chico & Rita. But this film is worth checking out for many reasons, notably the vibrant animation style, the engaging romantic story, and the fact that La La Land totally ripped it off and never said a word about it.
Chico (Oña) is a piano player with big dreams. One night, at a club in Havana, he meets the beautiful and talented Rita (Meneses). At first, Rita rejects him but the two end up spending a romantic evening together. But Rita leaves because Chico's girlfriend shows up. His constant cheating drives Rita to hop a ship to New York to start a profitable career as an actress, but Chico follows her and convinces her to give him another chance. Of course, the two fall madly in love with plans to get married, but fate gets in the way. It's a fairly by-the-numbers plot, but the animation is so beautiful and unique that it draws you in regardless.
Chico & Rita lost Best Animated Film to Rango, a film I look forward to watching soon. Outside the Oscars, it never made much of a splash stateside. But it's a strong celebration of Cuban heritage and music that's worth checking out.