“Tango Shalom” — a charming, family film about the power of love! - AmNews Curtain Raiser


Sunday, October 17, 2021

“Tango Shalom” — a charming, family film about the power of love!

 “Tango Shalom” — a charming, family film about the power of love!

There is a charm that runs through the film “Tango Shalom” where you immediately feel an empathic connection with Rabbi Moshe Yehuda (Jos Laniado), an Orthodox Jewish Rabbi who is in a financial mess with five kids to feed, a conservative wife who cares, deeply, about their standing in the community.

Much of the film’s endearing moments occur when Moshe ventures outside his traditional Hasidic Crown Heights neighborhood, desperately searching for work.  

Desperate, he stumbles across a Tango dance studio run by Viviana Nieves (Karina Smirnoff) on the very day her dancing partner leaves her in the lurch and in need of a partner for a big Tango contest with prize money attached. The good news, Moshe is a solid dancer, and his natural gifts — mainly expressed in the Hora — make him the perfect dance partner for her. 

Moshe is driven and truly believes that he’s listening to HaShem (the Hasidic name for God), so he goes on a spiritual quest to find a way to dance with Viviana without breaking his faith. 

The humor is brought to the boil, as he consults with his spiritual leader, Rebbe Menahem (Bern Cohen) but the advice is filled with 

endless considerations, saying, “On the other hand…” which means, no answers he can use. 

At wit's end, frustrated, Moshe walks the streets discovering a collection of holy men of several faiths to get different perspectives on the problem. This includes a visit to an Islamic Imam at a mosque. A Catholic priest, and finally he visits a Hindi Temple where he’s given the most promising advice and a solution so innovative, that it’s close to genius and in its absurdity, the humor blossoms. 

As he begins practicing the Tango with his new “solution” his personal life begins to challenge the very foundation of his belief system, as his money woes grow. 

"Tango Shalom" is a family film both in front of the camera and behind it. Just like his family trying to support each other, this film is packed with a family of filmmakers, including three from the Laniado family. And there is a great point about the power of faith, as Moshe gets valuable advice and builds friendships with other Jews, Catholics, Muslims, and Hindus. 

I salute the filmmakers of  "Tango Shalom" for not making dear, Moshe into a flat,  caricature because we are accustomed to seeing Hasidic men,  in pop culture, as cranky, figures in big, Black hats. In this film, he's three-dimensional and true to his religious beliefs; a complicated human being, full of life, with a love of music and dance. Mazel Tov! 

Now to the quality of the film itself, the largest problem is that his situation seems forced, with a weak, and thready plot. But as Rebbe Menahem would say, … “well on the other hand” "Tango Shalom" is solid family entertainment. 

"Tango Shalom"  is directed by Gabriel Bologna. Starring Lainie Kazan, Renée Taylor, Joseph Bologna, and Karina Smirnoff.

Excellent, Family Entertainment! 


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