The Tango Lesson, The Tango Lesson MovieReview, Movie Review, Rilm Review

Michael A. Maynez photo

"The Tango Lesson"

Sally Potter gave us the slightly controversial "Orlando" and left teeth marks that she would return. She comes back bitingly in a triple terror of directing, writing and starring in "The Tango Lesson". She leaves no doubt that she more than holds her own in this fabulous film. Her co-star and choreographer Pablo Veron, really gives her tango lessons which in reality serves as lessons that life really teaches us. The tango in Argentina is not to be taken lightly. It is a very complicated dance and one misstep and you are out. But to Argentineans it is more than that. It really is the battle of the sexes and may the best person win.

Carlos Gardel, was the poet laureate of Argentina. Some of his lyrics for the tango sing themselves when they were not burning you, like; "Si pase por este mundo la verguensa de aver sido, y el dolor de ya no ser, Ya ahora cuesta bajo en me rodada, la illuciones pasadas ya no puedo contener". A slight translation I will attempt, "If I passed through this world, with the shame of having been someone, and the pain of being no one. And now in my roller coaster ride down all my passed illusions I cannot contain". Try to dance to those words.

The film depicts Sally Potter as a woman attempting to direct a film, but in her spare time she exchanges tango lessons with Pablo Veron, who she will use in her film. She goes to Hollywood where she is disillusioned by the people that wanted to produce her movie, but she can't overcome their obstacles. She returns to London, Paris and Buenos Aires and back to the tango. She decides that maybe just maybe there is a movie in the tango. We the audience must be grateful for her resolution. Because you will leave the theatre wanting to tango all the way home.

It takes two to tangle and when Pablo is in command of his tango instructions he is a masterful disciplined Svengali and when she in turn tries to direct him in her movie he bolts and says. "You've changed". She replies, "We're now working". A double standard of how men see women. A dance with a muse, move over Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins, there is one fierce lady in your corner.

The Tango Lesson
Sony Pictures Classics
Produced by: Christopher Sheppard
Written and directed by: Sally Potter
With: Sally Potter, Pablo Veron
Choreography: Pablo Vernon
Co-producers (Argentina): Oscar Kramer, Christian Keller Sarmiento
Co-producers (France): Simona Benzakein
Edited by: Herve Schneid
Customer design: Paul Minter
Production design: Carlos Conti
Director of photography: Robby Muller
Rated: PG
Limited Release 14 November 1997

To contact Michael send e-mail to
To main index
Web Site by Alan Case
Original Date Sunday 4 January 1998
Updated Sunday 4 January 1998