Our Last Tango looks at the lives of two dancing legends, Juan Carlos Copes and Maria Nieves, two Argentinians who devoted their lives to Tango. This music and form of creative movement has a long history. Nieves explains part of it evolved amongst the lower-class people in of Buenos Aires and Montevideo, and for many people living in her tenement, it was the only escape offered away from the humdrum. As a young woman at home, she would dance to a broom, anxiously awaiting the chance to hit dance halls for a young man to whisk her away. She herself did not come from a rich family, and her reflection about where she came from helps gives this film a good sense of weight. Her introspection outweighs that of her dance partner, Copes.
With vivid recreations of both her life and Copes at their prime, dancing away like the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, their relationship on the dance floor is nicely examined. This documentary is both a reflection of the golden moments and tempestuous times they had. Much of it is retold in dance by brilliant young performers. Nieves helped choreograph these recreations that highlight their life, and these juxtapositions certainly makes watching this partial biography a treat. It’s in these moments where the music and movement truly reveal the emotions that are generated by the medium.
Nieves was in it for the enjoyment of dance while Carlos had grander plans. He wanted to introduce the world to Tango, and he succeeded at a great cost. The relationship these two maintained was a business one instead of two lovers. Together, they took the show to Broadway and made Tango Argentino a hit. They maintained a high level professionalism on stage and the synergy shows, but even at their best moments, observers noticed there was a candor about them that was fizzling.
Even though they never married, they certainly acted like they were a feuding couple. As time went by, the rift between them grew and they eventually dissolved their dancing partnership. The reasons why are certainly explored, and for many curious about what happened next, this motive is why this film should be seen. Even the tones from the soundtrack reflect where the story is going.
Quite often, the music heard has at least two bandoneóns, two violins, a flute, a single guitar and piano. A singer may be part of the ensemble. The variations depend on where people meet and in what’s heard, it’s tough not to start moving along to the sway of the happy tune. However, the sad moments in this product excel more. The power of how the tango can sway anyone’s feelings is at the core of this film’s moving exploration.
Despite the contrasts explored within these two individuals as a tour de force of the scene, the power they continue to exude today becomes more pertinent. Juan does not want to retire. He can still be seen on stage, but as for Maria, she’s the sage. She points out how important it is to find the right dance partner, otherwise what could result could repeat itself again. She does not want that for anyone interested in getting into tango for the first time.