The Tango Lesson

Gambit Weekly

DIRECTED BY: Sally Potter

REVIEWED: 02-09-98

But if you just have to experience REALLY BAD CINEMA, your best (worst?) choice is British filmmaker Sally Potter's The Tango Lesson. Written by Sally Potter, directed by Sally Potter, choreographed by Sally Potter and starring Sally Potter, The Tango Lesson is the story of Sally Potter. In The Tango Lesson, Sally Potter plays Sally Potter, a London screenwriter, film director, dancer and choreographer making a film called The Tango Lesson. Well, actually, as the picture opens, Sally Potter is trying to write and direct a picture called Rage (which is an emotion she does manage to elicit in this movie), but she's doing a bad job on her script (think about that!) and decides to distract herself by popping over to Paris for tango lessons from the world's greatest tango dancer, Pablo Veron (played with amazing accuracy by Pablo Veron).

So they dance a while. And Pablo Veron is impatient. And Sally Potter jets off to Argentina to take lessons from some other guys. Man, the British film industry must pay top pound. Sally Potter gets better, returns to Paris and is soon performing on stage with Pablo Veron. So they share. And you know what they discover. They belong to the same religious group. Neither one believes in God, but it's so special to belong to the same religious group. So they cry. They are soulmates.

Unfortunately, as a tango dancer, Sally Potter is a thoroughly terrible film director. And when Pablo Veron tells her so, she teaches him a lesson for being so cruel (if honest). She determines to put him a movie that she will direct and therefore have the opportunity to tell him that as an actor, even one playing himself, he's a sweaty, flashy tango dancer that you keep wanting to punch in the kisser. And so they make The Tango Lesson, which is all about everything we've already seen, and dammit if we don't have to watch it all over again. Yep, when they discover that they belong to the same religious group, they cry all over again, though neither has found a reason yet to believe in God. At the end, they dance, and as they dance, Sally Potter breaks into song. I was so astonished I almost choked laughing.

I will say this, however: The Tango Lesson, an unparalleled exercise in narcissism, has reaffirmed my faith in God. If there were no God, this film might have gone on forever here on Earth as it surely does in hell.

--Rick Barton

Full Length Reviews
The Tango Lesson
The Tango Lesson
The Tango Lesson

Capsule Reviews
The Tango Lesson

Film Vault Suggested Links
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