It’s been over a decade since Fonteyne directed “Une Liaison Pornographique”, in which he explored permutations of sex and love.
Returning here to the connection between physicality and emotionality, he sets up a ménage-à-trois between Alice (Paulicevich) and two mates doing prison time for a botched crime: her husband Fernand (López) and her sometime lover Dominic (Hammenecker). Visiting them, Alice moves comfortably between the two, observed by the emotionally repressed guard Jean-Christophe (Damiens). This unusual status quo is shattered when Fernand learns that Alice and Jean-Christophe have met casually ‘outside’ at a dancing course – learning to tango.
Perfect as a metaphor for control, suffering and expressive freedom, the tango now takes centre stage as Fernand seeks out an Argentine inmate to learn the dance himself. Practice inevitably results in men dancing with men and along with some sublimely moving and comedic moments, a small incident between Fernand and Dominic creates further imbalance.
As a mixture of feel-good dance movie, prison breakout and social drama, the movie’s genre hotchpotch sometimes shambles into unresolved (and under-edited) corners. Despite this, and an implausible ending, it’s an intriguing look at re-directing life’s many missteps.
Tango Libre | Directed by Frédéric Fonteyne, (France, Belgium, Luxembourg 2012) with François Damiens, Sergi López, Jan Hammenecker, Anne Paulicevich). Starts June 13
Originally published in Issue #117, June 2013.