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Tango Shalom

USA 2021
produced by
Jos Laniado, Claudio Laniado, Jordi Caballero, Gabriel Bologna, Joseph Bologna, Zizi Bologna, Joel Zwick, Robert Meyer Burnett, Yan Fisher-Romanovsky (executive), Renée Taylor (executive), Judi Beecher (executive), Janet Winchell (executive) for Convivencia Forever Films
directed by Gabriel Bologna
starring Jos Laniado, Karina Smirnoff, Judi Beecher, Claudio Laniado, Renée Taylor, Lainie Kazan, Joseph Bologna, Marci Fine, Bern Cohen, Bob Greenberg, Laura Fay Lewis, Joanne Baron, Despina Mirou, Justine Laniado, Nicholas Foti, Samantha Rodino, Emma Argenziano, Luigi Ferrara, Xavier Frank, Hamza Zaman, Yasir Sitara, Mitch Poulos, Justin L. Wilson, Martin Pfefferkorn, Jay Michaels, Clarissa Hoffmann, Al Burgo, Arel Rivera, Noah Rivera, Frances Lozada, Jessica Cherniak, Paul David Miller, Matt Nagin, Joel Brody, David Serero, Noam Ash, Julian Tocker, Michael Salvia, Philip Anthony-Rodriguez, Carlos Barrionuevo, Mayte Valdes, Leonardo Barrionuevo, Miriam Larici, Jordi Caballero, Mayte Vicens, Daniel Arias, Zita Gonzalez, Ekaterina Fedosova, Marion Ossent
story by Jos Laniado, screenplay by Joseph Bologna, Jos Laniado, Claudio Laniado, music by Duo Z (= Zoe Tiganouria, Zizi Bologna)

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Basically, rabbi Moshe Yehuda (Jos Laniado) is a good man: He tries to be as good a husband and a father as he can be, he tries to care for his larger family as good as he can on his meagre income, and he's really as open-minded as his hassidic beliefs allow him to be - and of late, he can't deny it anymore, he's pretty much broke, especially since he's to pay for his brother Rahamin's (Claudio Laniado) wedding. Now he's not one to duck responsibility, so he goes looking for a job - only to learn that the corporate world hasn't much need for a middle-aged man who has been a rabbi for all his life. But on his his quest for employment he passes a tango school, and since he has a natural talent for dancing, he just imitates some dance moves he sees the students doing inside - enough to catch the attention of tango teacher Viviana (Karina Smirnoff) who invites him in and is soon to see his natural talent. But then disaster strikes for her when she learns that her partner for next month's tango contest has just dropped her, and desperately in need of someone talented enough to participate with her in his stead, she turns to Moshe, figuring if someone's teachable enough to be her partner within the month, it's Moshe. Now in principle he agrees to do it (also because it would mean lots of money) - but his religion doesn't allow him to touch women other than his wife (Judi Beecher). This is of course a conundrum, so he goes to his rabbi (Bern Cohen), and when he can't help him to a Christian priest (Joseph Bologna), an imam (Yasir Sitara) and even a Hindu mystic (Hamza Zaman), but none of them can help him, only the mystic hands him a balloon - which he quickly realizes is the solution to all his problems. But even if he's now "allowed" to dance tango without touching, it's still another thing to win his prejudiced community and even family over to his side of thinking. And then he still has to master the dance by the time of the competition ...

 

Tango Shalom is a very sweet film - and in the best possible way, too, as even if the film is on the surface about religion and religious ramifications, it is really much more universal and has a very humane heart to it that transcend's Hassidic Judaism (or really any other religion touched upon in the movie). And likewise, while the film might not be all free of clichés, both concerning religion and otherwise, they're all brought across in a very loving and non-discriminating way. And add to that a relatable cast playing likeable characters, a subtle direction, and dance scenes that really get one moving, and you've got a very nice piece of unlikely dance cinema.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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