As the saying goes – it takes two to tango. Two people who have the agility and passion to bring a dance to life isn’t a common find, but in the case of María Nieves and Juan Carlos Copes, it’s a passion that transcended the world of dance and become a core part of the life story of these two Argentinian paramours now in their eighties.
The ballad of María and Juan is the kind of tale of love and hate that wouldn’t be out of place in a Leonard Cohen album. The passion that these two shared is obvious; María mentions that upon meeting the two shared the kind of romance that happens once per lifetime. Over the years they have consistently fallen in love, grown to despise one another, and gone through a painful breakup. Yet they always managed to meet up again at some point and tumble down that rabbit hole once again.
Director and writer German Kral (believe it or not he’s actually Argentinian) brings the life of these dancers to the screen with a Wim Wenders produced documentary that is both original and engrossing. Nieves and Copes are the best known couple in the history of tango; their influence over the past fifty years is hard to understate. Archive footage and interviews with the two fill in their long and occasionally sordid history. Thrown into the mix are choreographed dance numbers which recreated differed epochs of their two lives, each with a new troupe of professional dancers. Special mention must go to Ayelen Álvarez Miño as the young María, who is both a great dancer and stunning beautiful. Scenes of María interacting with the actors as they rehearse and informing them of all the personal little details are fascinating.
In the present day the two are separate; Juan is happily married with a women years his junior and Maria lives alone. They don’t seem to be on good terms. María mentions that she is proud of her life and wouldn’t change a thing – except for Juan. Their passion for dance took them around the world and cemented their names in the history of their art, but it came alongside fury and heartbreak.
A shot of her sitting alone at the kitchen table pouring a coffee sticks in the memory; it’s a truly sad thing to witness a woman as passionate as her reach the age of eighty and be lonely. At one point she reveals a conclusion made many years ago: “No tear shed by a woman for a man is worth it”. With a cigarette constantly sitting in her hand and a no nonsense attitude to go along with her very Latin temper, she’s a women unlikely to be forgotten.
Beautiful to look at and listen to, Our Last Tango is a documentary that will resonate especially with those who know the art of dance. For everyone else it’s a thoughtful film which deals with some very mature themes and is all the more interesting for it.
Our Last Tango is in cinemas 24th March through Sharmill Films.