Dancing With Margot / Bailando Con Margot

Havana, New Year’s Eve, 1958. A detective investigating the theft of a painting from the house of a wealthy widow, unearths a dark and tangled history, rooted in a pre-revolutionary past of cabaret decadence and shady Mafia, dealings (a world that, unbeknownst to the protagonists, is due to be swept away, in a few hours time, with the arrival of the Revolutionary Army in the city). Through masterly lighting, art-direction and location work, the film evokes the atmosphere of Havana in the1930s, 40s and 50s, with a huge wink to the conventions of Film Noir, (as well as more nuanced references to Latin American genres such as the Mexican Cine de Rumberas). Director Arturo Santana keeps a firm hold on the reins, ensuring that the film never becomes a mere exercise in style; a sure-footed script interpreted by a multi- talented cast, whisks us through a compelling human story, while the side-long, self-referential humour preserves a distance from any indulgence in romanticised nostalgia for what was, in fact, a brutal period in Cuban history. A must-see at the Festival this year!

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