You Should Stream: ‘Chico & Rita’ Is a Passionate Love Story Set in 1940s Cuba, Animated

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Chico and Rita is a passionate love story set in Cuba in 1948. Chico, a young piano player, and Rita, a soulful singer, dream of stardom and collaborating with their favorite musicians like Tito Puente and Dizzy Gillespie. Their epic love story takes place during a defining moment in the evolution of jazz, captured beautifully in the film, and sets in motion their travels to New York, Paris, Hollywood and Las Vegas — in search of fame and sometimes in desperate search of each other after periods of extended separation. They long to be together and can’t bear to be apart. But, life and their careers keep getting in the way. Oh, and did I mention it’s animated?

Yeah, you heard right. A passionate love story, animated. And yes, there are animated sex scenes (in case you were wondering, and I know you were porque eres sucio.) The directors, Oscar-winning Fernando Trueba (Belle Epoque) and famous Spanish designer Javier Mariscal, took great care in getting the animation just right. They shot much of the film with live actors to serve as a template for the animation. The lush, colorful drawings highlight the architecture of a long forgotten era, the height of opulence and wealth in pre-communist Cuba. Its moody, bold look, tempestuous storyline, and unforgettable jazzy soundtrack by legendary Cuban pianist and five-time Grammy-winning composer Bebo Valdés made it a natural choice for the Oscars; it was nominated for Best Animated Feature Film.

It’s filled with heartbreaking drama, intense (naked) fights, and love-filled stolen glances — definitely animation for grown-ups. And making it even more awesome, there are (animated) cameos by Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, Cole Porter, Dizzy Gillespie, Woody Herman, Tito Puente, Chano Pozo and others.

Chico & Rita
Directors: Fernando Trueba, Javier Mariscal, Tono Errando
Country: Cuba, Spain
Year: 2010
Language: Spanish

Where You Can Watch It: Netflix Streaming, iTunes, Amazon Instant VideoGoogle Play