The Tango Lesson (Spanish: ) is a 1997 drama film by British director Sally Potter. It is a semi-autobiographical film starring Potter and Pablo Veron, about Argentinian Tango.
The film, a co-production of Argentina, France, Germany, Netherlands and the United Kingdom, was produced by Christopher Sheppard in Britain, and Oscar Kramer in Argentina and was shot mostly in black and white in Paris and Buenos Aires. The soundtrack includes original recordings of Carlos Gardels, Mi Buenos Aires querido, and Astor Piazzollas Libertango, two of the most iconic tangos in the history of the genre. It also includes a song written and sung by Potter.
On a trip to Paris Sally meets Pablo, a tango dancer. He starts teaching her to dance then she returns to London to work on some "projects". She visits Buenos Aires and learns more from Pablo's friends. Sally and Pablo meet again but this time their relationship changes, she realises they want different things from each other. On a trip to Buenos Aires they cement their friendship.
The tango lesson sally potter in milonga 1997
The film tells of Sally, a filmmaker and screenwriter suffering from writers block. She is dissatisfied with her film project, a murder mystery called Rage, which features the fashion industry. Taking a break, she travels to Paris, where she sees the dancer Pablo (Pablo Veron) performing tango.
The tango lesson sally potter pablo veron 3 1997
She becomes obsessed with the dance and offers Pablo a part in her film in exchange for dance lessons. The two become deeply involved as dancers and as lovers. Their emotional intimacy threatens the success of their dancing together.
The film explores the conflict between the woman dancer accepting the mans lead in the dance, while the man must accept the womans lead in the film. It is a love story and a showcase for Verons dancing.
The tango lesson sally potter pablo veron 4 1997
Sally Potter as Sally
Pablo Veron as Pablo
Morgane Maugran as Red Model
Geraldine Maillet as Yellow Model
Katerina Mechera as Blue Model
David Toole as Fashion Designer
George Yiasoumi as Photographer
Michele Parent as Seamstress
Claudine Mavros as Seamstress
Monique Couturier as Seamstress
Matthew Hawkins as Bodyguard
Simon Worgan as Bodyguard
Carolina Iotti as Pablos partner
Zobeida as Pablos Friend
Orazio Massaro as Pablos Friend
Gustavo Naveira as Gustavo
Fabian Salas as Fabian
Carlos Copello as Carlos
Maria Noel as Film Executive
The film was first presented at the Venice Film Festival in Italy on 29 August 1997. One week later it was screened at the Toronto Film Festival in Canada on 8 September 1997. The picture screened at various film festivals, including: the Mar del Plata Film Festival, Argentina; the Reykjavik Film Festival, Iceland; the Istanbul Film Festival, Turkey; and others.
Milonga Triste composed by Sebastian Piana and Homero Manzi, performed by Hugo Diaz y su Conjunto, recorded in Buenos Aires in 1972.
Now composed by Sally Potter & Fred Frith, sung by Sally Potter, recorded in Paris 1996.
Quejas de bandoneon composed by Juan de Dios Filiberto, performed by Anibal Troilo y su Orquesta tipica, recorded in Buenos Aires in 1958.
Red, yellow, blue composed by Sally Potter & Fred Frith, recorded in Paris in 1996.
Mi Buenos Aires querido composed by Carlos Gardel and Alfredo Le Pera, sung by Carlos Gardel, recorded in New York in 1934.
El flete composed by Geronimo Gradito and Vicente Greco, performed by Juan DArienzo y su Orquesta Tipica, recorded in Buenos Aires in 1936.
Rage composed by Sally Potter & Fred Frith, sung by Sally Potter, recorded in Paris in 1996.
Zum composed by Astor Piazzolla, performed by Osvaldo Pugliese y su Orquesta, recorded in Buenos Aires in 1973.
Amor y celos composed by Miguel Padula & Alfredo F. Roldan, performed by Juan DArienzo y su Orquesta Tipica, recorded in Buenos Aires in 1936.
Doyna composed by Frank London, David Licht & David Krakauer, performed by The Klezmatics, recorded in New York in 1994.
Danse de cuisine composed by Sally Potter & Fred Frith, sung by Sally Potter, recorded in Paris in 1996.
Pensalo bien composed by Juan Jose Visiglio, Nola Lopez & Julio Alberto, sung by Alberto Echague with the Juan DArienzo y su Orquesta Tipica, recorded in Buenos Aires in 1938.
La yumba composed by Osvaldo Pugliese, performed by Osvaldo Pugliese y su Orquesta, recorded in Buenos Aires in 1946.
Jacob and the angel composed by Sally Potter & Fred Frith, sung by Sally Potter, recorded in Paris in 1996.
Milonga de mis amores composed by Pedro B. Laurenz & Jose Maria Contursi, performed by Juan DArienzo y su Orquesta Tipica, recorded in Buenos Aires in 1970.
Gallo ciego, composed by Agustin Bardi, performed by Osvaldo Pugliese y su Orquesta, recorded in Buenos Aires in 1959.
Libertango composed by Astor Piazzolla, performed by Astor Piazzolla & orchestra, recorded in Milan in 1974.
Bahia Blanca composed by Carlos di Sarli, performed by Carlos Di Sarli y su Orquesta Tipica, recorded in Buenos Aires in 1958.
I am you, composed by Sebastian Piana & Homero Manzi with English lyrics by Sally Potter, sung by Sally Potter with Yo-Yo Ma (cello), Nestor E. Marconi (bandoneon), Antonio Agri (violin), Leonardo D. Marconi (piano) & Horacio Malvicino (guitar), recorded in Buenos Aires in 1997.
Libertango (reprise) composed by Astor Piazzolla, performed by Yo-Yo Ma (cello), Antonio Agri (violin), Nestor E. Marconi (bandoneon), Horacio Malvicino (guitar).
Argentina: 20 November 1997
France: 8 April 1998
Germany: 9 October 1997
Netherlands: 15 January 1998
United Kingdom: 28 November 1997
United States: 14 November 1997
New York Times film critic, Janet Maslin, thought the film was rather simple, and wrote,
"Stiffly playing a filmmaker with a growing passion for the tango, [Sally Potter] makes this a handsome, dryly meticulous film with no real fire anywhere beyond its supple dance scenes. The lessons are numbered and cataloged with an obsessive care like that of Peter Greenaway, but this material has little of his corresponding complexity."
Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert discussed in his review the films major goal, writing, "Most dances are for people who are falling in love. The tango is a dance for those who have survived it, and are still a little angry about having their hearts so mishandled. The Tango Lesson is a movie for people who understand that difference."
Edward Guthmann, San Francisco Chronicle staff critic, lauded the film and the courage of director Potter, and wrote,
"British director Sally Potter stuck her neck out when she made The Tango Lesson, a fictionalized account of her relationship with Argentine tango master Pablo Veron...Potter takes what seemed like a recipe for embarrassment and excess and delivers a film thats sweet and understated and devoid of diva posturing...[the film is] smoothly directed, nicely written and falters only in the performance that Potter was able to squeeze out of herself while performing her multiple tasks."
Yet, Guthmann says Potter should have cast another actor in her role. He adds,
"Its too bad, then, that Potter couldnt have figured out a way to use another actress to play herself. She often looks worn out, which makes sense given her offscreen responsibilities but works against her tale of courtship, infatuation and the emotional sparks that fly between two gifted, bullheaded artists."
Mar del Plata Film Festival: Best Film, Sally Potter; 1997.
National Board of Review: Special Recognition, for excellence in filmmaking; 1997.
American Choreography Awards: American Choreography Award Outstanding Achievement in Feature Film, Pablo Veron; 1998.
British Academy of Film and Television Arts: BAFTA Film Award; Best Film not in the English Language; 1998.