Choosing the right partner in any aspect of life is important. This is especially true in the world of dance. When it came to the tango there was no other couple more suited for each other on the dance floor then Argentine legends María Nieves Rego and Juan Carlos Copes. Their chemistry was undeniable when they performed, but their compatibility off stage was a different matter. In Our Last Tango director German Kral explores the turbulent 50 year relationship between Nieves and Copes. A relationship that Nieves claims she would do exactly the same again “only without Juan.”
Tracking their union back to their first meeting in 1950, Kral’s documentary shows a couple who, despite their dysfunctions romantically, were visionaries when it came to expanding the reach of tango around the world. Not content with being the best in their region, the pair worked hard to achieve their dreams of performing in America. However, not even their hit Broadway show “Tango Argentino” could mend the persistent conflict behind the scenes.
Now octogenarians, Nieves and Copes sit down separately with Kral to explain what went wrong in their union. Our Last Tango reveals two people who could not be more different. While Nieves was genuinely in love with Copes, a love that ultimately left her alone and jaded, her only true solace came when performing the tango. Her passion for dance was so strong that, while reflecting on a brief affair she had with a man who showed the type of affection Copes never could, Nieves admits to choosing the lure of the tango over her one chance at true love.
It is a stark contrast to Copes who, while a gifted creator, seemed more in love with her talent than Nieves herself. Treating their marriage as if it was a personal inconvenience, he freely sought the attention and affections of other women. At one point he boldly states “I didn’t belong to her, she belonged to me.” Still dancing at 83, Copes’ cocky demeanor cannot conceal that fact that he will never again have a dance partner as talented as Nieves.
Moving to its own seductive beat, Our Last Tango does not neglect the importance of the tango itself. Filled with several captivating dance numbers, used to recreate key moments in the couple’s life, Kral takes a rather interesting approach to the way he weaves these sequences into his film. Though he casts professional dancers to play the parts of Nieves and Copes in the flashbacks, Kral blurs the line between fact and fiction by frequently having Nieves offer technical tips to her younger dance counterparts. While this helps to give the tango footage a magical feel, the tango on the table is particularly astonishing; it also reminds the audience that the fire for tango in Nieves’ mind can never be extinguished.
Our Last Tango will have audiences running out to the nearest tango studio once the final credits roll. However, they will no doubt be a little more cautious when seeking a suitable partner.