It’s a beautiful thing when a filmmaker is so touched by an aspect of their life that they feel they have to put it on the big screen and share it with the world. This is exactly what happened when Sally Potter set out to create the movie The Tango Lesson. Potter had spent time learning the tango and became enamored with the sensual art of the Argentine Tango. She was inspired to create this semi-autobiographical film as a result. Potter herself stars in it alongside accomplished tango maestro Pablo Veron, in his first ever film role.

The chemistry between Veron and Potter is astounding. Perhaps the most important thing when it comes to the tango is whether or not sparks fly between the dancers.

The movie examines the nature of the dance as a whole - what it means for a woman to follow the lead of a man, and conversely, what it means for the man to occasionally accept the lead of a woman. There is tension when Sally tries to break the traditional gender roles of the tango, and tells Pablo, “it doesn't suit me to follow. It suits me to lead, and you can't deal with that.” Not only is she literally referring to the conventional tango style, but to the nature of their romantic entanglements. The tango makes a perfect metaphor for their love.  

The Tango Lesson also examines what it means to be connected via mind, body, soul and tango.

It shows the way that tango can evolve into a love like no other. Potter and Veron’s characters have a “will they/won’t they” dynamic to their relationship that pairs extremely well with the nature of the tango. The push and pulls of the dance moves mirror their emotions and state of mind. The film truly captures the intimate qualities of the dance while also capturing the hearts of the audience. It also explores the trust involved in executing a tango routine. After all, you don’t want to go out on the dancefloor with someone who will be stepping on your tango shoes and making you look like a fool - especially not the beautiful tango shoes that Potter wears in the film!

Though the plot is a rather simple love story, the dancing on screen and gorgeous visuals are enough to keep audiences captivated. Innovative scenes involving a tap dance through airport security or a dance by a rushing river are breath-taking displays of artistry, both in terms of filmmaking and dancing.

The movie is primarily shot in a gorgeous black & white that adds a classic beauty that accentuates the stunning dance moves on display. The film opts for more restrained costuming choices. Potter doesn’t wear a flashy tango dress, but instead struts about in simple yet elegant black dresses. The subdued visuals feel true to the essence of tango - it strips it down to its core and gives audiences a feeling of melancholy and nostalgia that is such an important aspect of tango.

The soundtrack to the film is incredible - it includes original recordings of two iconic tango songs in history, Astor Piazzolla’s Libertango and Carlos Gardel’s Mi Buenos Aires Querido. It’s clear that Potter and the crew involved are passionate about the tango, and they obviously know their stuff. Potter even includes an original song she wrote herself and recorded in Paris. She actually sings quite a few songs on the soundtrack as well. Acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma is even featured. It’s a brilliant score that complements the Argentine dance perfectly.

This one is a must-see for anyone interested in the tango.

The autobiographical nature makes it very down-to-earth, and it is easy to place yourself into the roles of the stars. It will make you wish you were finding beautiful romance with a dancer overseas yourself!