This documentary traces the multi-decade partnership (both on and off the dance floor) of Argentinian greats Juan Copes and Maria Nieves who single-handedly yanked the tango out of its decline onto the worldwide stage (and in fact even further up onto a table for their dizzying signature number). Director German Kral employs the no-longer-new technique of reenactment to supplement vintage footage – and takes the technique an eye opening step further by having octogenarian Maria coaching the actors in their approach to playing the younger versions of the couple and by including her conversations with the two actresses playing her young and middle-aged selves – not just breaking down the fourth wall but crushing it.
On one level, this film is the fascinating story of the irresistible tango with all its power, drama, rage and sexual intensity. On a whole other level this is a story of regret and the road not taken. Maria has become a national treasure; rich and famous and a true ‘artiste’, but paid for her choices by giving up her love and the possibility of family and ultimately being left without even her dance partner. She says it best when she declares that she would live her whole live over exactly the same way – “except without Juan”.