Watching “Tango Notes” is like eavesdropping on a deadly serious conversation between connoisseurs of the famous Argentine song and dance. In a film-essay hovering between docu and fiction, director Rafael Filippelli suggests that the tango is largely history by now, a memory kept alive by a few aficionados. At the opposite extreme from Carlos Saura’s sensual dance film “Tango,” pic is an open-ended, fictional investigation into the genre. Following three young people who are researching the tango’s roots for a film they’re making, pic spits out lots of info and runs some superb musical numbers by its public, which will most likely be found in fests or video stores.
A contemporary singer of the broken-hearted tune “People Call Me a Boozer” draws fine distinctions between the great historic performers, from Carlos Gardel and Anibal Troilo to revolutionary instrumentalist Astor Piazzolla. Another scene shows the excruciating embarrassment of a woman singer from tango’s golden age who can’t remember the song lyrics. Very intelligent but inconclusive, the film resembles a veteran piano player’s definition of tango: The final chords are never resolved, because the woman we love never comes back.