Chico dreams big. The young man dreams of lighting up nightclubs around the world with his fierce songwriting and stylish piano work. Rita, a beautiful woman with a beautiful voice, also dreams big. She may not have the ego that Chico has, but the young woman's drive for world-class professionalism is just as peerless.
Chico & Rita begins in Havana, Cuba, in the late 1940s -- a bright and jittery carbon copy of the best that western popular culture had to offer. It is here that Chico and Rita meet, but in the tradition of the Latin ballad, their instant love brings as much heartache as it does pleasure.
The two characters carve out some reasonable success in Cuba, but their talents eventually take them to stages as far flung as Europe and the night life of the United States. Should Rita accept a big time contract from a foreigner if it means leaving behind a culture that nurtured her for years? And what about Chico; his mastery of jazz will take him far, but would he go farther with a vocalist such as Rita backing up his ivories? Chico & Rita follows these two lovers as they dabble in all sorts of entanglements, ranging from drugs and alcohol to romantic impropriety
As the years pass, the stress and strain of being an elite performer brings hardship, and both Chico and Rita are forced to make difficult decisions about their future.
GKIDS distributes Chico & Rita to home video this week, including a standard DVD release ($29.95) as well as a more substantial DVD/Blu-ray/CD soundtrack release ($39.95).
The film, directed by Javier Marsical and Fernando Trueba, features a musical composition by Bebo Valdes. The music of Chico & Rita is warm and sensual throughout, massaging the audience with a sometimes delicate but often electric array of Latin jazz. Valdes himself is a legendary Cuban pianist, bandleader, composer, and arranger. Chico & Rita isn't merely the love story of two musicians, it also happens to be a modern reflection and romantic tribute to mid-century jazz.