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American Women's Club of Hamburg

Tango Libre

 ½

France | Belgium | Luxembourg 2013
Starts June 13, 2013

Directed by: Frédéric Fonteyne
Writing credits: Philippe Blasband, Anne Paulicevich
Cast: François Damiens, Sergi López, Jan Hammenecker, Anne Paulicevich, Zacherie Chasseriaud
Length: 98 minutes

Tango LibreWhat could tango possibly have to do with freedom or the absence of freedom? In this tragic comedy, a lot. The people in this movie are either prison inmates, prison guards or friends and relatives of prison inmates. In one way or another, they are all affected by the limitations of prison life. When Jean-Christophe (Damien), a prison guard, dances with an attractive woman at a tango class, he has no idea that Alice (Paulicevich) is actually the wife of Fernand (López), an inmate of the prison where J.C. works. The next time he sees her, she’s in the prison’s visiting room, visiting both her husband Fernand and her lover Dominic (Hammenecker). Alice’s husband and her lover are friends and even share a prison cell, but that doesn’t mean her husband isn’t a jealous man. When Fernand finds out that his wife and the prison guard have danced tango together, he attacks and injures J.C.

As a result, Alice doesn’t get a visitor’s permit any more. She then visits the prison guard at home to find out when she will be allowed to see her husband again. This is against the rules, but J.C. lets her in. The situation is a bit awkward at first. They make small talk. J.C. obviously leads a quiet life with his companion of fifteen years, a goldfish. Alice tells him that her son Antonio (Chasseriaud) is also fifteen years old. Finally J.C. gives Alice the information she wants. What appears quite harmless in itself, a simple act of human kindness, marks a change in the attitude of the prison guard who used to follow the rules and regulations. In the meantime, Alice’s son has also been drawn into the conflict between Alice and her husband and starts spying on her. We also see him take out a gun his mother doesn’t know he has and practice shooting. But these aren’t the only consequences of two strangers dancing tango together. At the prison, Fernand surprises everyone by asking a dangerous inmate called “The Argentinian” (Mariano ‘Chico’ Frumboli) to give him tango lessons. Nothing in the first part of the movie prepares the viewers for what happens then and neither will this review. Find out for yourself!

Tango Libre was awarded the Venice Horizons Award – Special Jury Prize – at the Venice Film Festival 2012 and the Grand Prix at the Warsaw International Film Festival 2013. ()

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